Is there a Santa Claus?
'Is there a Santa Claus?' When Virginia O'Hanlon asked her parents that question in the late nineteenth century,
they suggested that she write to the New York Sun and ask them for an answer.
Francis P. Church, a Civil War
correspondent, wrote an editorial in the September 21, 1897 edition of The New York Sun in response to Virginia's letter, which touched the heart of America and is still considered to be one of the greatest editorials ever written. The New York
Sun reprinted the piece annually until the paper folded in 1949.
Is There a Santa Claus? (1897)
By Francis Pharcellus Church
We take pleasure
in answering at once and thus prominently, the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The
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?
115 West Ninety-Fifth
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 eternal 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 they 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 may 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, fancy, 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 he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Copyright Notice: This work, published before 1 January 1923, is now in the public domain worldwide.