Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Historical Christmas Stories: Yes, Virginia!

If you love historical Christmas stories -- or even if you don't -- you can probably finish this sentence: Yes, Virginia, there is a....
The most famous of all historical Christmas stories has to be ;
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. -->>And better still, the story is true.

In spite of the fact that almost everyone has heard of such historical Christmas stories, surprisingly few people know the full tale behind them. It's kind of like going Christmas caroling and discovering you don't actually know more than the first verse of your favorite songs. Most people don't know more than the most basic of Virginia's story.But that basis is incredibly famous.
An eight-year-old girl, doubting the existence of Santa Claus, wrote a letter to the New York Sun in 1897 and received a public answer in the form of a now-famous editorial entitled ;
"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus."
Virginia (actually Laura Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas) wrote to the New York Sun after her "little friends" told her there was no such person as Santa Claus. Interestingly, that phrase -- "little friends" -- has caused many to question the authenticity of the story, as some argue that no eight year old child would ever use that phrase.
In 1998, though, the original copy of the letter appeared on The Antiques Roadshow and received professional authentication (receiving a value, incidentally, of about $50,000).
Virginia went on to become a school teacher and died in 1971.
The Author
Like most historical Christmas stories, this one has an author -- or in this case, an editor. Francis Pharcellus Church was a war correspondent during the American Civil War, an assignment which took a serious toll on his stores of hope, joy, and faith in humanity.
No one expected much from Church's editorial -- in fact, they placed it seventh on the editorial page beneath an article about chain less articles. The editorial, however, became a symbol of belief for a generation and who would have known all generations thereafter.
In the years since, Church's article has become the most reprinted editorial ever, and has found a permanent home in the heart of many Americans.
Like so many historical Christmas stories, this editorial touches on meaningful philosophical issues like the Christmas ideals of belief, faith, and hope.