The following is an article from Uncle John’s All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” But do you know where it comes from? Here’s the original letter, the reply, and finally, a little scientific analysis to help you decied for yourself.
One of the most famous Letters to the Editor ever to appear in a newspaper was this query from an 8-year-old girl. It was first printed in the New York Sun in 1897, along with a response by editor Francis P. Church. It proved so popular that it was reprinted every year until the Sun went out of business in 1949. It’s now part of American lore. But few people have read the original letters. Here they are.
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, 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 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."
UH, WELL, VIRGINIA, ONE SECOND THOUGHT…
“Can reindeer really fly? Is there really a Santa Claus?”
To answer this question, we turned to the book Cyber Jokes, edited by Doug Mayer, and his careful analysis of four key factors:
1. Santa’s Workload
“There are two billion children in the world, but since Santa doesn’t appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist children, that reduces his workload to 15% of the total, or 300 million. At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 85.7 million homes. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the Earth, assuming he travels east to west. That works out to 767.9 visits per second. So for each household with good children, Santa has about 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the presents, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, into the sleigh, and move on to the next house.”
2. The Time/Distance Factor
“Assuming that these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the Earth, we’re talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles.”
3. Calculation of Estimated Speed
“This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound.”
4. Santa’s Payload
“Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-size LEGO set (about two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as ‘heavy.’ On land, normal reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds, and even granting that flying reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, Santa’s going to need 214,200 reindeer to pull his sleigh. That increases the payload to 353,430 tons, or four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.”
“[A craft of] 353,000 tons, traveling at 650 miles per second, creates enormous air resistance. This will heat up Mr. Claus and his sleigh like a spacecraft reentering Earth’s atmosphere.”
Translation: If there is a Santa, he’s toast.
[Ed. note: What if it's on TV? If Nine News Darwin says it's so...]
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader. The 13th book in the series by the Bathroom Reader's Institute has 504 pages crammed with fun facts, including articles on the biggest movie bombs ever, the origin and unintended use of I.Q. test, and more.
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