Adults often lie to little children.

They say there is no more chocolate, instead of saying that the children are not allowed to eat any more.

They say it's too late for the kids to stay up instead of saying they'd rather spend their evenings alone.

Adults do this to make their lives easier and because they think they can get away with it with kids.

They know their lies are socially acceptable.

They do it the hardest with Santa Claus.

Every year, millions of parents in this country tell their children about someone who doesn't exist.

And to forestall the argument that this isn't a lie, but appropriate for the age because it's full of imagination: Not everything that doesn't exist is immediately fantastic.

Today's Santa Claus is a downright clumsy character, commercially designed, completely composed and marketed.

It raises no questions, it hides no secrets.

Everything has been answered: an old white man with a bushy beard and a red coat who rewards socially adjusted children and punishes naughty, untameable outsiders, lives in Lapland, rides through the sky on a sled, a few reindeer in front, also has an address in Germany: Christmas post office, 16798 Heaven's Gate.

If you want to take the lie to the extreme, you can book a trip to Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle, which costs several thousand euros for the whole family.

You live in a hut in the official home of Santa Claus, you can visit an elf workshop and, at the culmination of the program, you also get a personal audience.

Santa Claus does drive up in a VW bus, but before the child can think of a skeptical question, dad quickly says (authentic quote from a colleague): He only uses the sleigh for presents, not for his audiences!

Terrible humbug

Adults also lie to little children with other made-up characters.

But they work differently than Santa Claus.

Example of the pacifier fairy: The parents say there is a winged creature that will eventually take the pacifier with it and pass it on to babies who need it.

The pacifier fairy leaves a gift as thanks.

Terrible humbug, but at least with clear self-interest for the parents: instead of dealing with the conflict with the child themselves, an invisible hand now takes over the direction.

This saves them arguments and the brief, painful moment when the child distances themselves from them.

(What feelings of powerlessness this may cause in the child is another story.)

But what's the use for adults in lying about Santa?

There is no conflict they have to deal with their lie.

It would be easier for them to give their children the gifts themselves and thus educate them in a more enlightened manner.

Instead, they invent a messenger and sometimes defend it harshly.

In Texas in 2018, a man reportedly shouted at a "Breakfast with Santa" attendee that Santa Claus was "not real".

He was arrested.

A news agency quoted the mayor as saying: protesting against Santa Claus is not an option.

Adults are often afraid

What is violated by not participating in the lie about Santa Claus?

One possible answer to this is very Christmassy.

Adults want their kids to believe in Santa Claus because they don't believe in Santa anymore.

To this good power that sees each individual and knows their innermost desires.

Who never forgets or betrays him.

She knows he's good.

Santa Claus, and that may sound absurd for Christians, fulfills a longing for inner security and homeland in many adults, which they only know from their own childhood because they no longer have any connection to religion or metaphysics.

So instead of looking at Santa Claus as a sign of an increasingly mundane and materialistic society, we need to reinterpret him and acknowledge that for many adults he carries a specific message: fear not.

Because adults are often afraid.

Children are more confident.

You don't need Santa Claus.

Sure, he makes the evening exciting, exciting, special.

But they can think up much more breathtaking things anyway, they see the world so much bigger, for them everything is wildly connected.

Most importantly, they don't need Santa Claus because they have parents who take care of them.