Letter answers question on child’s mind
Logos Editor’s Note:
The following is one of the most famous editorials ever written.
It appeared on the editorial page of the now defunct New York Sun on September 21, 1897.
It was printed as an unsigned editorial, however, it was later revealed to have been written by Francis P. Church, the Sun’s veteran editor.
According the Barricks Insurance Web site, eight year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the letter to the New York Sun after asking her father whether or not Santa Claus existed.
She had been teased at school about her belief in Santa Claus. This teasing made little Virginia question the existence of Santa Claus.
Virginia asked her father if there was a Santa Claus.
His answer was evasive, so she told him that she was going to write to the Sun.
In their family, whenever there was a dispute, they would write to the Question and Answer page of the Sun.
Her father always told her that if she read it in the Sun, then it must be true.
And thus, her letter and the corresponding answer became famous.
So why reprint an editorial which is over 100 years old regarding something controversial as to whether or not there is a Santa Claus?
Because it serves a beacon of hope for those who still hold onto the belief that Santa Claus does exist and that just because you can’t see him, doesn’t mean he’s not real.
By running this editorial, Logos is not endorsing any specific religion. I realize that there are other religions that have special days in December and don’t believe in Christmas.
However, this editorial should be seen as a warm and touching reminder to all of us of what it was like to be a child.
It is with great pleasure that Logos reprints this famous editorial in its original form.
Nothing has been changed from the way it was originally published. No words have been added or taken away and the punctuation has not been edited. Enjoy!
-John Schnackenberg, Editor
New York Sun Editor’s Note:
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 measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists 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 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 in 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 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 man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal 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, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!