New York Sun Editorial Reminds Us What’s Missing Today
December 22, 2011
In 1897 an eight year-old little girl named Virginia asked her father, Dr. Philip Hanlon, whether Santa Claus really existed as she was being told by her friends at school that he did not.
Dr. Hanlon wasn’t quite sure how to answer his little daughter - so he suggested she write to the New York Sun - New York City’s most trusted newspaper at the time. He told Virginia, "If you see it in The Sun, it’s so".
Editorial columnist Francis Church received Virginia’s letter and answered it in a front-page editorial that went far beyond the simple question, "Is there a Santa Claus"?
Here is a copy of her letter and editor Church’s response, published in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897.
It is well worth reading today. Merry Christmas!
I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it’s so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
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 mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence of grasping the whole 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 your life its highest beauty and joy. 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 all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you 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 that are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart a 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 that ever lived, could tear apart.
Only faith, 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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.