I've been pondering this for a while now, what do you all think of things like the myths of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc? Since some are simply in good cheer, should children be lied to about the myths, or should one say that they're just stories (whether when asked about it or immediately)?
I would personally lean toward the second one, simply avoiding the introduction of such myths while keeping the spirit of the holidays.
Well, I think all myths are acceptable. But I know you meant when myths are presented not as myths, but as truths.
I am leaning towards not feeding certain myths to my daughter as truths. However, children live in a magical mindset that I don't think that something like Santa Claus would cause any long term damage. Now, threats of hell by religion very well might and has for many children.
But Santa is not a myth, it's a fairy tale.
Myth by definition is something openly erroneously assumed to be true in the general population.
That is not the only way to define myth.
In the case of Santa Claus, you could call it a myth or a fairy tale and be correct in both instances.
As atheists, in a context of clear communications, IMO it's always better to use first definitions instead of a mishmash of secondary or third definitions. It's the reason communicating in English can be so bloody confusing and cententious! Dictionaries in English are descriptive (vs prescriptive), meaning they'll reflect pretty much any nonsense definition people will apply to any given word! It really drives me nuts.
As usual, an encyclopedia (Encyclopaedia Britannica) is much more useful than any dictionary:
[...] there is no attempt to justify mythic narratives or even to render them plausible. Every myth presents itself as an authoritative, factual account, no matter how much the narrated events are at variance with natural law or ordinary experience.[...] Because myths narrate fantastic events with no attempt at proof, it is sometimes assumed that they are simply
stories with no factual basis, and the word has become a synonym for falsehood or, at best, misconception.[...]
In no way do Santa or the Easter Bunny correspond to this understanding.