In 1897, The New York Sun received a letter from a little girl named Virginia O’Hanlon asking if there really was a Santa Claus. Francis P. Church of the Sun penned an editorial in reply to Virginia which has become a seasonal classic and has been reprinted in newspapers many times over the years. The letter and editorial follow:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says if you say it in the Sun, it is so. Please tell me the truth — is there a Santa Claus?
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 little insect and an ant is 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 Virginia. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except 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 all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming, 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 child nor man can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on a lawn? Of course not. But that is no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You 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 who ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty glories beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He will live, and he will live forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.