" 'Ho, ho, ho,' understood widely as the language and vocabulary of Santa, is his mantra – ritual words that express his being and his power. In some religions, a mantra is a word or words that, sounded thoughtfully, can make any action sacred. A person who is initiated into a special spiritual role may be given a special mantra to use throughout his or her life. These are words used to sanctify rather than to express an idea or a feeling. In this sense, Santa's words, 'ho, ho, ho,' serve well to manifest his essence and his values. Jesus says, 'The kingdom is near.' The angel says, 'Don't be afraid.' Santa says, 'Ho, ho, ho.'

"With his stocking cap, bells, wide girth and cheerful mantra, Santa also has qualities of the holy fool. This is a figure in many spiritual traditions who does silly things and makes people laugh, but his purpose is deadly serious: to help people get away from the heavy, rational burden of a ponderous life. He wants to break through the logical and the practical in a funny way, using gentle humor as a means to the holy. This role is particularly fitting because Christmas comes during the gap between darkness and sunlight – the perfect time, traditionally, to stop being normal and to begin experimenting with alternative ways."