12 Studies of Christmas: Santa Claus
Father Christmas, Santa Claus, jolly old Saint Nick. Whatever his name, every year a lot of us allow a man we've never met (apart from once at a pop-up grotto in some shopping mall) to break into our house at night and leave presents under a tree and in socks. As part of our 12 studies of Christmas, we surveyed 100 people in the UK to find out what they think of the jolly man in red.
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First up, what do we call him? It's a pretty even split with 53% calling him Santa Claus, and the other 47% Father Christmas. No-one calls him Saint Nicholas (or Nick) or any other name as their first choice!
A whopping 83% of respondents are non-believers, but most of them did think Santa was real when they were children. Very few people made it to secondary school still believing, with most realisations happening between the ages of 8 and 10.
Only two people never believed in Father Christmas!
A third had the fun spoiled by older siblings or friends at school. But 44% figured it out on their own, either by finding presents stashed around the house, catching parents filling their stockings, or by recognising handwriting on gifts!
Some specific responses worth noting:
Real Santas did not get drunk (back in the days)
Dad put fake reindeer whiskers in a carrot
Documentary on tv
Unreal scenario when considered
Santa is famous for his naughty and nice lists. 86% think they escaped a lump of coal this year, with many citing this difficult year as their reasoning.
Lots mentioned lockdown, while others thought Santa would be more lenient for 2020 because we all need a bit of a break:
Not been able to do anything naughty, been stuck inside all year!
I've been deprived enough of my luxuries this year!
Of the 14 who said they'd be on the naughty list, many seem to be proud and claim they're always on the list. There even was a mixture of smiling and winking emoji to prove the point. One person simply chalked their fate up to:
I just assume I've done something to annoy Santa
So let’s say Santa is stopping by your house, what snacks do you leave out to power him through his round-the-world journey? Most people mimic Scrooge and leave nothing. But the most popular offerings are mince pies for the man himself and carrots for the reindeer.
Finally, it’s Christmas morning. Santa has come and gone and your stockings are full but what’s at the toe?
Let’s ignore the third of people who don’t have a stocking at all.
The traditional orange comes top of the leaderboard with 24%. Many people seem very particular about their citrus, specifying “satsuma”, “tangerine” and “clementine”. But they're all lumped together here because, really, who can tell the difference?
“Chocolate orange” is a category in itself because while it should be considered chocolate, it is such a nod to the tradition of oranges. And, of course, one person from the naughty list knew they’d be getting coal.
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And remember, whatever your usual festive period looks like, this year is bound to be a little different. As one participant put it, whether you’ve been naughty or nice, well done for making it through. No one is on the naughty list considering the year we have had. Let’s hope Santa agrees!
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