The latest Christmas controversy involves the person who has come to represent the Christmas season of gift giving–second to Jesus Christ.

That person has a thick, snow-white beard, wears a belted red velvet suit trimmed with white fur and black boots, is heavy set, and totes a large matching red sack filled with presents. Have you guessed who it is?

I am referring to Kris Kringle, aka Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus or simply Santa.

Usually I would use the pronoun he and refer to Santa as a man, but in this current climate of gender neutrality, I am likely to set off those who would call me offensive or hurtful. 

This happened to a UK mother recently who was slammed on social media for using the term Father Christmas instead of Santa Claus. She caved to the pressure saying she doesn’t want to use terms that could be hurtful to someone.

Apparently, Santa Claus could be a woman or fluid. Therefore, it’s time to retire the moniker Father Christmas, because it implies that he is a he and not a she.

You might ask, who actually thinks we should use gender-neutral terms to refer to Old Saint Nick? A 2018 survey of UK and US respondents found that about 17 percent of people think the jolly guy should be rebranded as gender neutral and 10 percent think he should be rebranded as a she. (Thankfully, these were the least popular rebranding ideas. More people said he should have tattoos, wear skinny jeans, carry an iPhone, use Amazon Prime, and go on a diet, than be rebranded as a woman or gender neutral.) 

Today, it is convenient to try to change Santa’s identity by applying new social mores that say you can be whatever gender you choose in the name of inclusiveness. However, you cannot change history. 

Father Christmas, as he’s often referred to in England, or Santa Claus as he’s commonly known in the U.S. was based on a real man, a Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas born in what would be modern-day Turkey around 280. After losing both parents, Nicholas took up providing for the poor and sick. According to one story, three times he secretly visited the home of a man with three daughters, who could not afford money for their dowries, and left a bag of money.

Saint Nicolas’s story is a story of selflessness, charity, and benevolence. 

Men, women and children today can take great moral lessons away from this saint. 

However, we should not change who he was to conform with a social agenda.