6 January 2013

This House Believes That: Father Christmas really does exist!

Roland Bouillot is FOR the motion

Hello everybody! Father Christmas really does exist! You believe in him, no matter how old you are, or where you come from!

Father Christmas is a familiar figure, but how much do we know about him? Santa Claus, as everyone knows, lives somewhere in the North Pole, and his job is giving lots of presents to all the children of the world every Christmas. He was first known as Saint Nicholas and he came from Asia Minor. He was a kind bishop with a white beard and a red coat who travelled around Europe on a donkey making miracles. The Dutch call Saint Nicholas Sinter Klaas, which gave us the American “Santa Claus”.

In 1863, Thomas Nast, a journalist for the American newspaper “Harper’s Illustrated Weekly” met Santa Claus for real, which is a rare privilege of course. Nast made an accurate drawing of him: an impressively tall, large man with a white beard wearing a red coat trimmed with white fur and a huge black belt with a gold buckle. Over the next thirty years Nast was allowed to draw Father Christmas on several occasions. In 1885, he even went to the North Pole to draw the house of Father Christmas and the busy factory run by elves where most of the toys are made.

In 1931, the Coca Cola Company hired Santa as an official representative of the brand, because of his nice red and white coat (red and white are the colors of the Coca Cola brand). Santa was pleased because he was allowed to drink as much soda as he wanted to and it gave him that extra energy to be able to finish his job on time.

Some people think Santa Claus is more popular than Jesus, but if this is true, it’s not Father Christmas’ fault; he just had the help of the Coca Cola advertising executives!

I don’t understand how you cannot believe Father Christmas exists! I mean, my cousin sent me this bonnet (show bonnet) he says he borrowed from one of the elves working in Father Christmas’ factory! Isn’t that the proof that there are people working for him?

And if that isn’t proof enough for you, check this out: here is overwhelming proof of his existence (show slide of myself and Father Christmas)!

Millions of people know Father Christmas exists; they surely cannot all be wrong! Nobody will be able to make me change my mind, and I would like the audience, if you agree with me, to say nice and loud and all together “Ho, ho, ho!”

Quentin Berthaud  is AGAINST the motion

Santa Claus must not exist! Santa Claus is just an advertising gimmick for over-priced toys! Santa Claus promotes over-consumption! Santa Claus is guilty of the monstrous amounts of waste and pollution that result from so-called Christmas celebrations! Worse still: Santa Claus is a lie!

Kids are told that telling fibs is bad, and what do parents do? They try to make their kids believe that there’s a fat man, several hundreds of years old, who lives in the North Pole, who flies around with a bunch of reindeer and comes down millions of chimneys in just one night to give everyone presents… Why can’t he come through the front door like everybody else?! And why flying reindeer?! And why has he never been seen for real; what’s he got to hide!? And who is this guy anyway?!

Sorry to disappoint you folks, but Santa Claus was created by Coca-Cola to promote its fizzy drink! Santa Claus has little to do with the Christmas spirit, with sharing, generosity or charity. The advertising men who invented Santa Claus simply exploited the Christian tradition of giving presents to make people feel they have to buy more and more stuff...

To make their kids “happy”, parents have to buy them lots of things; in other words, Santa Claus is just another device to promote consumerism. Consumerism, according to Wikipedia, is “a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts”. The Christmas period has become just that; it has gone from a religious family event about peace in the world to a stressful frenzy en famille of gluttony, jealousy and greed!

Santa Claus is a great symbol for the consumer society: overweight, unthinking, and who takes up too much space in our lives. The magic of Christmas is now the warmth and the lights of the shopping malls, enticing people in...

In the USA, Christmas is not enough, there’s also Black Friday and Thanksgiving too. During Thanksgiving 2011, 150 million people spent 15 billion dollars shopping. During December 2011, Americans spent something like 52 billion dollars! Crisis, what crisis? In France too things get over-the-top: 200,000 people go to the Paris Galleries Lafayette every day in December.

Christmas is also an ecological disaster. In France, six million Christmas trees are sold each year, including one million plastic ones. High-tech gadgets, mostly made in China, have become the new toys; their ecological impact is very high.

If Father Christmas really does exist, we would have to get rid of him, quick! We think he, like some pagan God, brings affluence and happiness; it’s not surprising that people are disappointed when they realize real life is not like the Christmas the shops promised it would be…

There is scientific evidence that Father Xmas does not exist: with 378 million presents to deliver to 91.8 million homes and 31 hours to do the work, Father Christmas and his reindeer would have to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound; the reindeer would be vaporized within 0.00426 of a second and Santa would be killed by 4,315,000lb of force! Plus, need I remind you folks: humans and reindeer simply do not know how to fly!

Augustin Lafoy is AGAINST the motion

If I hike across the North Pole, am I likely to meet Father Christmas, his wife, and Rudolph the reindeer too? No, of course not!

Santa Claus was invented to make Christmas more exciting for children but also because he is very useful to parents too… Parents emotionally blackmail their kids with the promise that if they’re extra good, an overweight man in a red suit will come with a sleigh-load of goodies as reward.

It is surely important to think about what we tell our kids… If Santa Claus rewards children for being good, then how is it that children in wealthy families have more gifts? Are they “better” children?

I think too much emphasis is put on presents and the real meaning of Christmas is forgotten. The (quantity of) gifts you give to your child for Christmas has become a measure of your affection, and this is sad… One or two presents should be enough, surely?

Also, why hide your affection by persuading them that it is a stranger who has brought them these gifts? Isn’t the parent-child relationship already complicated enough?! Your child is going to be grateful if you tell him or her that the gifts are from you.

Be worthy of the trust your children places in you; don’t lie to them by making them believe some fictional character really does exist! Sooner or later, the child will discover that Father Christmas does not exist and he is going to be very disappointed (in you). Isn’t life difficult for children to understand as it is? It could even be traumatizing for them to think their parents are untrustworthy… Rather than having to admit your guilt - you have lied for years to your own child! - simply never talk about Father Christmas as if he were a real person! You will avoid feeling ridiculous, or having your authority questioned, or your child’s trust in you shattered.

What kind of respect do we have for our children!? Believing in Father Christmas or the tooth fairy or whatever does not help our children understand and appreciate the world better, on the contrary, it just confuses them even more…

Refusing to believe in Santa Claus does not mean rejecting Christmas of course. So, let us get back to the true spirit of the festivities, for our children’s sake!

Aloïs Salgnac is FOR the motion

Father Christmas is real, he is alive, he exists, I believe in him! And even if Father Christmas does not exist, well then, we would have to invent him! Why? Well, basically, because he’s a nice person! When we speak about him, everybody thinks about presents, parties, and happy moments with the family. Life can be difficult sometimes, so a bit of cheerfulness - ho, ho, ho! - can only be a good thing.

And parents do not lie to their children about his existence, because he does exist! And even if parents were guilty of a white lie, their children won’t blame them for wanting to make them happy!

And what is this humbug about Father Xmas being a symbol of excess?! He’s a symbol of kindness and generosity, not of consumerism! I do not understand why these people go crazy shopping at Xmas time; can’t they be content just with what Santa brings them down the chimney?! That way people everywhere would get the same amount of presents and there would be no unfairness. It’s not his fault if people go nuts at this time of year!

We cannot make children believe Father Xmas does not exist, that would be cruel. They are so excited on Christmas Eve, impatient for the surprises which will mysteriously appear under the tree during the night…

None of us here has ever seen him, I don’t think, but we know he is impressive, with a big white beard, but that he is very patient, kind and generous… We should have faith in his existence!

Louis Buyssens is AGAINST the motion

“There are none so deaf as those who will not hear”, so I shall now only address the sensible people here present!

Some have said he exists, others that he definitely does not… “Father Xmas” is nonsensical codswallop; it’s even an immoral concept! If he does exist, we should get rid of him fast!

Some of you believe that Santa Claus is a universal blessing, the embodiment of kindness. But what is “kindness”? Father Christmas symbolizes a very Western notion of what is good. His attributes are very familiar to us: the wise beard, jolly red garments, a snow sleigh, etc. I’m not sure in Sub-Saharan Africa this fat old white man is understood as being “Mr Kind”...

You could say Father Christmas is a necessary mythological character, but even that sounds odd to me. Father Christmas does not have much to do with Saint Nicholas anymore! By making this Saint into a symbol for the whole world, adaptable to every culture, we’ve  kind of sold his soul; he is no longer a Saint, but has become an instrument of the rife consumerism of globalized capitalism! Santa Claus is an American imperialist! As such, he has no legitimacy as a symbol of goodness for the whole world.

Just imagine for a moment if he were real, what would happen? He would encourage the consumption of mostly useless things (toys and such) everywhere he went, in the name of “good” and “joy”… To me, a gift is far more precious when offered freely, for no particular reason. If we need a pretext to give things, do we need pretexts to be nice?

And if Santa Claus offers things only to nice people, how can you be 100% sure they are not acting nice only to receive gifts? Do we want to be nice on the odd occasion or nice all the time? Is being nice only a means to get something in return?

Father Xmas actually wants us to consume “religiously”. That’s what it is all about: religion and manipulation. Who, precisely, are Santa’s target customers? Children! Santa is sick! This pervert assaults our kids and exploits their weakness to make his sect thrive! He wants us to believe in him from the earliest age, because “believing is beautiful”. And this man is said to bring genuine happiness! Note how he has the complete guru gear: a beard, a creepy costume, obscure symbols, etc.

Dreams and believing in something are hugely important for children’s proper development, but Father Christmas is a symbol of unhealthy materialism. We should tell kids the truth; Father Xmas does not exist, thank God!