It's a question I have been wondering about for some time - why does Christianity with its prohibitions against the worship of false idols cling to the concept of Santa Claus? The capitalistic nature of St. Nick and the fat man's demand on our children to worship in his manner in order to receive rewards seems to be contrary to the demands and needs of the Christian religion. However, Christianity is not only content but compliant in the materialistic nature of one of their more holy days.
The original Santa Claus was St. Nicholas of Myra, a Greek figure who was famous for his gifts to the poor. This concept is in line with the way Christianity attempts to portray its religion. However, over time, Santa Claus has had dozens of influences, including Odin. The concept of flying horses (and then reindeer) came from Odin's eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Sleipnir bore Odin about during Yule-time, and if children left food for Sleipnir, the horse would replace the food with candy and toys. Sounds familiar, yes?
The paganization of Christianity should come as no surprise to the educated. But Santa Claus, technically, is not Christianity. He is a canonized mortal combined with pagan deistic influences. Over the last 100 years he has become more and more linked to the increasingly materialistic nature of the Christmas holiday. But young Christian children are immersed in the myth of the magic Santa Claus more and more.
Because Santa Claus is a magical figure that provides tangible rewards for living a certain lifestyle. If you are a good boy or girl, you will get gifts from the old fat man. Believing in one magic man makes you more likely to believe in Jesus Christ and the entire concept of religion. When you accept Santa Claus at a young age and are duped into that child-like fantasy (as well as other such concepts as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny), it makes the concept of an invisible man who will let you into a place of ultimate good upon death that much easier to accept.
Santa Claus should be taught as a concept or as a tradition. My parents weren't quite open about the legend with me as I would have liked, and I don't know if I want to do Santa with my children. I think it's dishonest and the last thing I want is for my children to believe that magical rewards for an obscure code of behaviour is the right way for someone to live their life.