Santa Claus and sleigh against moon over hilly winter landscape

Santa Claus, a late legend and story about Christmas giving, is a feature of December in much of the western world.   What do we make of this imaginary figure and its role in the lives of children and adults — and in culture?  From the roly-poly white-haired man, to elves and reindeer, Santa is a commercial as well as cultural figure.  Here are some thoughts about Santa.

Santa Claus wears a Red Suit,
He must be a communist.
And a beard and long hair,
Must be a pacifist.
What’s in that pipe that he’s smoking?

— Arlo Guthrie

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

— Charles Dana

On a busy day twenty-two thousand people come to visit Santa, and I was told that it is an elf’s lot to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity. I promised to keep that in mind.

— David Sedaris, SantaLand Diaries

I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white man would be coming into my neighborhood after dark.

— Dick Gregory

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.

— Shirley Temple

Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven.

— W. C. Fields
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