By: Rebecca Jones
HOUSTON – Webster’ s Dictionary defines the word truth as being: “the real facts about something, things that are true, or a statement/idea that is true or accepted as true”. The same source reveals that the word racist is, “poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race.” With that being stated, in terms of speaking or stating the facts about a particular incident, or historical or current subject, telling the truth is not racist.
Lately, there has been much conversation throughout the nation regarding Jesus Christ being a White man and Santa Claus as well. In this Christmas edition of African-American News & Issues, we have decided to tell the TRUTH about the both of them as history records it. The Truth about Santa Claus: When considering the truth about Santa Claus, one thing that history makes note of, in reference to the origination and story behind the ‘jolly ole man’ who went around spreading joy, and gifts throughout the land; is that of a legend.
Accordingly, a legend is a story from the past which may be viewed as one of historical significance, yet not verifiable. Hence, the history of the legend of Santa Claus is dated back several decades ago to a monk named St. Nicholas, who is said to have been a Christian. He is also believed to have been birthed around 280 A.D. in Patara (a city of Lycia), which rests near modern-day Turkey. The legend reveals that, St. Nicholas “gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.”
His story does not stop there but continues as having saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. History recounts that he would later go on to build a reputation of being known as the protector of children and sailors. Originally, St. Nicholas day of celebration was established by the date of his death, December 6.
Addressing the readers of African-American News & Issues, you may be wondering how did the St. Nicholas’ legend travel from Patara to the United States of America? Well, it was adopted into the American popular culture in 1773. It was at this time that a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of St. Nicholas death.
Not many years afterwards, the name Santa Claus derived from St. Nicholas’ Dutch nickname “Sinter Klaas”. In the early 1800’s, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, began to distribute woodcuts of Santa Claus as we now know him. His woodcuts were engraved with depictions of stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace in the background. As years went on, stores began to capitalize off of the legend. In which case gift-giving, mainly centered around children, became the central focus of the Christmas season that was incorporated into US culture.
While, the legend does not necessarily state the original race of St. Nicholas it has always just been assumed that he was White. However, the story does say that he was born in Patara, undoubtedly which would make him a Lycian. Yet, during the dispensation that he was said to have lived, no established record has been accounted for; as it relates to the actual verifiable appearance of the Lycian people. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that his skin tone was White or Black. Now this is the truth and it is not racist!
The Truth about Jesus Christ: Now that we have insight into the history of “Santa Claus”, we must address the truth about Jesus Christ as it relates to Christmas. Firstly, Christmas is a religious holiday and celebration that is reverenced worldwide. However, it was established as a federal holiday in the U.S. in 1870. The date that the government set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth was December 25. Though, this is not necessarily the actual day that Jesus was born, it was meant merely as a date to honor the leader who Christians believe is the Savior of the world.
Since that time, Christmas has been celebrated amongst many by traditional customs such as: exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees and homes with lights and ornaments, attending church services and sharing meals with family and friends. Now, in order to best understand the race of the man upon whom this holiday was instituted, the only true source that can be referenced is the Holy Bible.
Thus, one biblical passage reveals that Jesus Christ was born of immaculate conception according to St. Matthew 1:18-25. It states, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
As referenced in the above scripture, “Joseph, thou son of David” is a direct representation of the Hebrew or Jewish race. To that regard, Jesus Christ is neither Black nor White but rather a Jew. Nevertheless, if one just wanted to establish or associate a “color” in reference to his shade; it would have definitely been more of a bronze or dark color rather than White. Primarily due to the locality of which he was birthed into. Now this is the truth and it is not racist!