Believing in Santa Claus can enhance creativity and imagination in children while also reminding kids -- and kids at heart -- about generosity and joy, researchers find.
"Our great tradition, Santa Claus, reminds us that Christmas is, in fact, a time of joy and plenitude just when the gray, oppressive skies of winter proclaim the opposite," Frank Riga, emeritus professor of English at Canisius College, said in a press release. "Santa Claus, finally, knows little or nothing of credit cards and shopping sprees, but he does know the pleasure in giving and the joy of others' joy."
The story of Santa originated with an actual Christian saint from Turkey, Riga noted. As the saint's real life's story merged with myth, he served as an inspiration for cultures all over the world.
"St. Nicholas was so well-liked that before Rome bumped him from the universal calendar of saints in 1969, he had become the patron of children, students, Russia, bankers, sailors" and more, Riga said. "This democratic appeal of the good saint attests to his generosity of spirit and helps explain why Americans have taken him to their hearts."