Film Friday: Yes Virginia

Yes ViriginiaWhile the brief 25-minute animated film Yes, Virginia is fiction, it’s based a real letter from an 8-year-old girl to The New York Sun.

In 1897, Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the paper to ask if Santa Claus really existed after some of her friends doubted the fact, saying that she was asking the newspaper because her father said, “If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.”

The editorial reply from Francis Church on September 21, 1897 included the famous line: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist…”

Church also wrote, “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.”

Yes VirginiaYes Virginia is a charming tale with appealing street scenes of late 19th century New York. Of course, several additional plot elements were required to pad the 25 minutes before Virginia’s letter is answered, so expect a mean girl, a scraggly bell ringer, and a curious little boy. One of my favorite added elements was a visit to the library where the children learn about Santa’s different incarnations around the world, from England’s Father Christmas to a goat-riding Santa figure in Scandinavia.

Believe MeterThe real Virginia O’Hanlon grew up to become a school teacher and principal, earning both a master’s degree and a doctorate, no small achievement for a woman in the early 1900s. Perhaps being imbued with a powerful sense of belief at an early age helped shape her career.

Film Friday: Do you give Yes,
 your stamp of approval?


Virginia and Her Letter to the Editor

Virigina OHanlon Virigina letter

Virginia Now a Balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

macy balloon

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3 thoughts on “Film Friday: Yes Virginia

  1. Phoebe Conn says:

    Mr. Church’s reply was so beautiful, it’s no wonder the story of Virginia and her letter to him have lasted all these many years. People do so want to believe in love, fairies, and of course, Santa Claus.

  2. Terry Lim Diefenbach says:

    When we went for a family visit back East, I had to ask my world-wise and brutally honest then 9-year old granddaughter to be careful when discussing Santa as her younger cousins still believed in him. She told me not to worry. At home she was careful not to disappoint her dad as he believed that she still believed in Santa.

    • Susan Lendroth says:

      My daughter is now an adult but knows that Santa only continues to fill the stockings of those who believe. 🙂

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