I read recently where a substitute teacher in New Jersey decided it would be a good idea to tell first graders that Santa Claus wasn't real (and then told them neither was the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy).

It kind of made me wonder why in the world a teacher thought that was a good idea? And then it made me think of the most famous newspaper Christmas editorial ever.

Commonly called the 'Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus' editorial, it's been quoted in full or in part in TV shows and movies and more for decades. You know some of the story, how eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon had been told by friends that Santa Claus wasn't real and how her dad told her to write to the newspaper, the New York Sun, and if 'you see it in the Sun, it's so'.

It was on September 21, 1897 that the Sun answered the eight-year-old's question in what has become the most famous Christmas editorial ever. From nysun.com, here's exactly what they said:

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Virginia O'Hanlon lived to the age of 81, passing away in 1971. And I'll bet she knew, and believed, in Santa Claus her entire life. Why?

Because The Sun said it was so.

Merry Christmas!

Wikipedia and The New York Sun Contributed To This Article

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