The Holidays are a time for presents in many parts of the world.

Children receive presents from their families and friends during the Christmas Celebration, for Hannukah or for Kwanzaa. In some countries children would also receive presents from “El Niño Jesus”, St. Nicholas or Santa Claus, and from the Three Kings.

Illustration by Graciela Castellanos

One of our traditions back in my country Venezuela was to create a Nativity scene (Belen) and write “La carta al Niño Jesus” (a letter to Baby Jesus). This tradition takes place as well in other countries with children writing similar letters to Santa or to the Three Kings.

In schools and homes children from all ages would dedicate time to write this letter.

Teachers not only would take this opportunity to help children develop their writing skills and their vocabularies but along with the parents would emphasize the importance of caring for others who were less fortunate and could not receive a present from El Niño Jesus. Many families would organize toy drives and on Christmas Day they would bring the presents to poor children or children who were in hospitals. Children would always accompany their parents during this special donation and at times would sing beautiful Christmas songs.

Wow!!! It was a special letter because you got to ask “El Niño Jesus” to bring you what you desired the most. On Christmas Eve parents would tuck their children into their beds right after the Christmas Eve dinner saying: A dormir que va a venir “El Niño Jesus”! (Time to go to bed! Baby Jesus will get here soon!)

Anxiously, we would wake up on Christmas Day to see what “El Niño Jesus” had brought us!!! Right beside our beds or under the Christmas tree there was our desired present! In awe we would run and celebrate with our parents this emotional event.

Illustration from Can you see what I see?

Believing in Santa Claus, El Niño Jesus, St. Nicholas, the Three Kings and other gift-giving characters is a wonderful way for your child’s imagination to grow. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your child to believe in magic. They might not be real but as long as we believe in the magic of love and the spirit of giving which is what they symbolize they will always live in our hearts.

Illustration by Graciela Castellanos