Santa Claus isn’t real. Yet millions of young children in the western world believe in him. The whole adult population accedes, and acts out, this cultural fantasy. It’s the most famous unifying mythology we have in our secular world.
The idea of EcoSanta came to me after one particular Christmas, as I watched my husband, Peter, in rain-gear and red balaclava, haul a huge piece of netting along our storm-racked beach.
Historically, Santa has a forebear. Saint Nicholas of Myra was the children’s patron saint whose generosity and kindness extended to all. Today, of course, Santa is better known for the toys he delivers to children on Christmas Eve, and the cookies he devours in the process.
But Santa must evolve. He has to become more meaningful, more relevant, more present. Santa’s way of being in the world, as the children’s greatest gift-giver, needs bringing up to speed. What we need is a Santa children will want to emulate, and who can help them learn to serve the Earth as a long-term thank you for the miracle of life.
Ann Palmer, aka Gaia Dance, is a founder-member of Ecologisers, the Young People’s International Anti-litter Charity based in the Outer Hebrides. Ecologisers’ Patron is TV presenter Paul Rose.