Reindeer Don’t Fly in Africa
Christmas is that time of year when we get together with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While this is the sole reason for the Holiday, there’s also another main figure that most people recognize during this time. He’s known as the jolly, old man that’s making a list and checking it twice! You might even see him in your shopping mall with scores of children that patiently await their turn to sit on his lap. We know this man as Santa Claus.
The origin of Santa reaches as far back as the 4th century to a Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey. Saint Nick was known for his kindness to children as well as his generosity in giving gifts. Through the process of time, this man soon became well known in his homeland and the practice of gift giving in his name spread throughout all Europe. The modern appearance of Santa was actually conceived in the 1880’s by cartoonist, Thomas Nast in New York.
This is history as we know it. Although, it’s interesting how a person’s background can affect the way he thinks on a particular topic. In the United States, the average American looks at Santa as a harmless idea. The mystery behind this man and his Christmas magic are the very elements that captivate millions of people around the world.
Living in Africa, I wanted to know what the average Zambian thought about Christmas and the idea of Santa Claus. I found that many people who lived in small towns or cities were more familiar with a lot of western ideas. They’ve watched all the movies and the TV has become their window to the world. However, there’s also a large majority of people in the village that have no idea who or what Santa Claus is! To them, Christmas is still in its purest form, a celebration of the birth of Christ and the New Year. I was surprised to see how many were repulsed at the idea of Santa and wanted nothing to do with Him! Again, this is where ones history and background come into play. The average Zambian looks at magic and people who fly as a common, real-life practice. I’ve had so many people tell me their stories of witchdoctors flying off at night. Naturally, when they hear about this jolly, overweight guy that can fly, they immediately associate him in the same category.
Here were some of the responses I got concerning Santa Claus:
1. (When asked about Santa Claus) Santa who?
2. I would never take a gift from him! How would I know where it came from?
3. I would stay away from him because in the end I could be very surprised.
4. You can NOT trust a man that can fly.
5. If he practices magic then he is not good.
6. He sounds like a man that goes against the Word of God.
7. I’ve never heard of him but I don’t like him.
8. How can he fly unless he practices witchcraft?
9. This man Santa can go to every child’s home in one night? He would have to be God to do that.
10. I would not take his gift.
So there’s a totally different perspective on the idea of Santa. I’ll let you decide on whether you think he’s good or bad. Although, I have a feeling that if it came down to a vote, many in Africa would make a no-fly zone for the man in red!
Have a great Christmas and let’s remember what it’s all about!