Why do Christian parents encourage their children to believe in Santa? They let them think that there is someone special who watches your behavior and gives you gifts, then when they get old enough we tell them that Santa is not real. Yet, the Christians still expect their children to believe in God.
It reminds me of a story Richard Feynman tells in ‘What do you care what other people think?” When he was a boy during a sermon his rabbi tells him a long story about another boy. Afterwards Feynman asks him a question about the story, then the rabbi tells him that the boy wasn’t real and that the story was just made up to illustrate a point. After that Feynman was upset at his rabbi and asked him how he can expect him to believe any of the stories that his religion teaches. After that he stopped going to church.
Additionally, by telling the children that their gifts came from a magical man the entire lesson of Christmas and gift giving is lost. Christmas isn’t just about being a good person; it’s about showing your love and giving of yourself. The kids don’t realize that you are giving them the gifts because you love them. It creates a sense of false entitlement, in that they deserve things just because they are good.
Maybe there is some way to alter the depiction of Santa to rectify some of these problems while maintaining the legend.