Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
“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; is there a Santa Claus?
“VIRGINIA O’HANLON. “115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical 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 supernatural 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.
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Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Time is Here (from the Charlie Brown Christmas special)
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Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - When Sundown Comes (1971)
The Uygur hero Afanti has long been a popular figure in China in his own right. Originated in the 12th century in Western Asia and highly localized after being spread to Minor Asia, Middle East, the Balkans, Middle Asia and finally to the Urgur communities in China, stories of Afanti have long been translated into many languages and became deep-rooted in the Chinese culture. They can be seen in children’s comic books, school textbooks, literary publications and academic researches, and are well adapted into puppet show, TV drama, animation and movies.
Afanti, a kind-hearted and smart young man who wears an exotic curled beard, dressed in striped robe and typical Uygur turpan, and often riding his little black mule, has always successfully made fun of those arrogant rich people and took side with the underdogs. For example, he once tricked a landlord called Bayi into planting gold with the hope of harvesting gold, thus losing his money to Afanti due to “volatile weather”. And he also enticed a judge to show him favor at the sight of his well-stuffed pocket which looked like bribing money but turned out to be stones that Afanti later explained were “stones to pay an unjust judge on his head”. To some extent, Afanti has become a symbol of the traditional grassroots wisdom of the spontaneously sanguine and humerous Uygur people and all lower class people in China, just like Charlie Chaplin for 20th century workers.
Globalization is really a strange thing, as Avatar expresses some sugar-capped bitter disillusionment with the insatiable desire of human beings for wealth and their unstoppable arrogance, the long overlooked name of his “low-key brother” Afanti in China is being revoked, who in the same vein of Avatar, also had such a heroic and lonely silhouette not unlike Don Quixote fighting alone against the pragmatic world of money-making. If you have a chance to discuss this with just some random street pedestrains of any age group in China and ask them who do they like more, you may find that technology and military power might not be the best solution to many third world breadwinners. For them, smartness itself is the greatest wealth more reliable than everything else, to help them perceive the complex world we sometimes think we understand too well.
Steps to Praia do Paraiso, Algarve Coast, Portugal (by Pedro Moura Pinheiro).
Leonardslee Gardens in West Sussex, England (by Chris. P).
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