Virginia asks, "Is there is a Santa Claus?" In 1897 little 8-year-old American girl called Virginia O’Hanlon wanted confirmation that there really was a Santa Claus! Virginia wrote to a popular newspaper called the New York Sun asking the question "Is there a Santa Claus?". Virginia O’Hanlon's father had often told her that if something was written in the New York Sun then it must be correct! So Virginia O’Hanlon decide to take matters into her own hand and get a truthful answer to her question from the newspaper.
The Letter from Virginia O’Hanlon The letter from Virginia O'Hanlon to the New York Sun in 1897:
Dear Editor, I am 8 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; Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus Virginia O'Hanlon.
Who said "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus!" So who was given the letter from Virginia to answer? Who said "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus!"? Virginia O'Hanlon's letter was passed on to an editor in the New York Sun called Francis Pharcellus Church. This short letter from a little girl was loaded with the question that, at one time or another, every child would ask their parents. Francis Pharcellus Church, known to his friends as Frank Church, gave due respect to Virginia O'Hanlon's letter. His reply is detailed below and the famous quote "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" was such a strong unequivocal statement that it has become part of Christmas folklore.
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" - The Reply by Frank P. Church The following reply from Frank Church is reprinted from the editorial page of the New York Sun, which was written by Mr. Frank Pharcellus Church and published on 21 September 1897:
"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except 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 capable of grasping the whole of 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 to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! 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 with 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 in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they 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 there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the 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, fancy, 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 he 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."
Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus - The Reply by Frank P. Church What a difficult task this must have been for Frank P. Church! The New York Sun did not particularly appreciate his response but the readers certainly did! The "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" article became one of the most popular editorials ever written. Readers asked for the article to be republished every December! And it was for many years...
Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus The question "Is there is a Santa Claus?" will continue to be asked by our growing kids and children as long as the legend of Santa Claus continues. What would Frank P. Church and Virginia O’Hanlon have said if someone had told them that their correspondence would still be read in the 21st century? For a different slant on the question please see our article: