Friday, December 3, 2004
A recent artice in the Guardian discusses a British pscyhiatrist study that allegedly demonstrates the mental and social benefits for children from a belief in Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as the British call him).
According to Dr. Lynda Breen, "the ritual of exchanging presents associated with Father Christmas also helps develop a child's sense of charitable giving as well as their consideration of others less fortunate than themselves." While she also recognizes that some parents believe that the Santa myth promotes deception and materialism, she argues that the Santa myth overall serves to nurture social and cognitive development through an emphass on sharing. She further asserts that the act of faith in believing in Santa helps children also learn faith in God.
Her full article may be found in the Psychiatric Bulletin. You should also be aware that not all psychiatrists share a belief in the doctor's findings. In terms of my own thoughts, I am not sure that you need to have psychology studies justifying the Santa Claus myth. It always struck me as a rather harmless, fun tradition, which although it involved deception, didn't cause any long-term harm. And, it was precisely because it didn't seem to have any long-lasting effects, that I have always assumed it was ok. Now, I suppose I will have to re-think some holiday traditions.