Father Christmas: just a story?

Papatheodorou, Theodora and Gill, Janet (2002) Father Christmas: just a story? International Journal of Children's Spirituality. ISSN 1364-436X

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Abstract

The present paper aims to discuss parental and professionals' views toward the Father Christmas story--who also known as Santa Claus (in America and many other countries), Saint Nicholas (in the Netherlands), Saint Basil the Great (in Greece)--and to explore the potential of the story for young children's spiritual growth. Stories are often told because of their entertaining nature, however, their value goes beyond entertainment. Stories allow individuals to express an emotion in a satisfying way, to harmonise their lives with reality and to come to terms with the world. Stories are often told to offer some explanation for existing phenomena or customs. The discussion in this paper is based on the findings of a study undertaken among parents of young children (phase one) and Early Years professionals (phase two) to investigate their attitudes and practices toward the Father Christmas story. The research findings have shown that parents tend to agree that the Father Christmas story conveys values with some kind of universal acceptance such as generosity, kindness and caring. Additionally parents themselves use the story to transmit social and personal values and to facilitate their children's ability to make sense of the self and the world. These elements and children's experience of excitement and the sense of magic, wonder and awe which the Father Christmas story generates were seen by parents as being extremely important. Early Years professionals acknowledge similar issues, but not so strongly as parents. Early Years professionals tend to place the Father Christmas story below curricular demands and in consequence show ambivalence about the place of the Father Christmas story in educational settings. The values of generosity, kindness and caring were more likely to be associated with the religious celebration of Christmas by Early Years professionals than with the Father Christmas story. These findings will be discussed in relation to their implications for practice in Early Years education settings.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Citation: Papatheodorou, T. and Gill, J., 2002. Father Christmas: just a story? International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 7(3), pp.329-344..
Faculty: Faculty of Education (for research published prior to September 2011)
Depositing User: Mr I Walker
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2011 15:39
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2016 12:49
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/128457

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