Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
EDITOR'S NOTE: More than 100 years ago, 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to The New York Sun, wanting to know if there was a Santa Claus. Her friends had told her Santa didn't exist, and when she asked her father, he suggested she writ...
EDITOR'S NOTE: More than 100 years ago, 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to The New York Sun, wanting to know if there was a Santa Claus. Her friends had told her Santa didn't exist, and when she asked her father, he suggested she write the Sun.
"Papa said, 'If you see it in the Sun, it's so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?" she wrote.
The letter was routed to Francis Pharcellus Church, an aging and unknown editorial writer for the paper. His response, now a classic, appeared as an unsigned editorial on Sept. 21, 1897. We reprint it for you today, the day before Christmas:
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what 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 friends! You might get your papa to hire men to watch 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 that are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle to see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not 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 supernatural 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 10 times 10 thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.