U.S. #2064 – Virginia’s story has inspired a musical, window display at Lord & Taylor, and a scholarship in her name.

“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”

In answer to a young girl’s letter to The Sun newspaper, Francis Church wrote one of the most famous editorials of all time.

The story begins with young Virginia O’Hanlon, who asked her father if Santa really exists. Her father suggests that she write to The Sun (now The New York Sun), because if it appeared in that paper, it must be true. So Virginia wrote a letter asking if Santa was real, pointing out that her friends said he wasn’t.

U.S. #1472 – The editorial was adapted into a cantata in 1932, making it the only such piece to be set to classical music.

Editor Francis Church received her letter and saw it as an opportunity. He’d served as a correspondent during the Civil War and witnessed the suffering and lack of faith that swept over the nation. Church’s editorial response appeared in The Sun on September 21, 1897 and deeply affected most who read it. His emotional response claimed there was a Santa Claus, and that “he exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist… Alas! how dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.” He also stressed that just because no one sees Santa doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist, stating, “Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

U.S. #3004-07 – Virginia’s original letter was discovered years later and valued at $20,000-$30,000.

His response spoke to readers on many levels and it went on to become the most reprinted editorial in any newspaper in the English language. It has become the centerpiece of several traditions that continue to this day. It’s read annually at the Yule Log ceremony at Church’s alma mater, Columbia University. It also inspired a childrens book and television special.

Virginia received countless letters about this editorial. She included a copy of the editorial with her responses and said it had positively shaped the rest of her life.

You can view the editorial in its entirety here:

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  1. Wonderful!!! Thank you so much for including the original editorial. I’ve heard of it most of my life, but had never read the actual response.

    I love your “This Day in History” – I look forward to it every day.

  2. Thanks Don and Mystic for this wonderful reminder that Santa Claus lives always in the hearts and minds of those who truly believe; and that with a little faith, hope and love, all things are possible.

  3. The response from the Editor to Virginia once again brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears of course to be reminded of all the beauty and joy that is in this life which far outways the evil. Thank you Mr.Sundman for these “Days In History” lessons. They are such a joy.

  4. Great choice, to include a Santa item and the editorial well away from December. I had not realized Virginia’s query and the response were in September.

  5. I discovered this just today (9/22/2015), and I’m so bummed that I haven’t been getting it for as long as it’s been featured here, that I’m going back through the older ones. (And thank you so much for allowing us to access previous editorials!)

    It will be YOUR fault if I don’t get any work done from now on.

    1. Yes Virginia there is a Santa !!! For 46 Years I have been The Toys For Toys Santa.
      Every year gets more exciting and more rewarding. Remember TOYS FOR TOTS.
      Thanks to all.

  6. YES VIRGINIA THERE IS A SANT CLAUS!!! This will mark the 50th year of my being a Santa with The United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program. Every year gets better because we are able to reach more kids in need. This year 2020 will be different. I do not know how we will put Toys For Tots together but we will.
    Thanks to all who support Toys For Tots.
    You Tube: toys for tots sequim sunny farms. S. Claus North Pole
    Toys For Tots Santa, Clallam County (Sequim) Washington

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