Perspective: Yes, TikTok, there is a Santa Claus
Just in time for Christmas, a new HarrisX poll shows that Santa Claus is alive and well in American households despite the grumbling of a few TikTok grinches
Despite rumors that he has been canceled by Generation Z, Santa Claus is alive and well and will be welcome in most American homes this weekend, according to a new national poll conducted by HarrisX for the Deseret News.
Around 4 in 5 Americans (83%) were taught to believe in Santa by their parents, and 80% of parents, or people who plan to become parents, say they will raise their children to believe in Santa as well, the poll found.
The share of Santa-friendly households is highest among Christians, 87%. But more than three-quarters of people who identify as atheist or agnostic also teach their children to believe in Santa, as well as 70% of people of other faiths.
The nationally representative survey of 1,000 people within in the U.S. was conducted online Dec. 13-14. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Understandably, Santa Claus was not available for comment on his busiest week of the year. But the findings are good news for those who love Santa and all he represents, and those who have warm childhood memories of anticipating his annual visit.
The findings should reassure Americans who may have been worried that Santa, having come down the chimney, might be shown the door — or worse. From some recent news coverage, it looked like Generation Z was about to off Santa, as Tim Allen’s character accidentally did in the 1994 film “The Santa Clause.”
As Asia Grace reported for the New York Post, #Santaisntreal was trending on TikTok earlier this month because of young parents who said they did not teach their children about Santa because they think belief in Santa would ultimately be traumatizing. The Post interviewed one North Dakota stay-at-home mom who said, “Telling kids that Santa is real is a lie, and I don’t believe in building my kids up on a lie.”
Another Zoomer, a mother of two from southern Utah who is a proponent of what’s been called “gentle parenting,” said she is a Santa denier because she doesn’t want her children to be good out of fear of not getting presents. “I don’t want to scare my children into thinking they have to behave a certain way or that they were more ‘naughty or nice’ than another child based on Christmas gifts,” Chloe Amelle said.
Most troubling about this is that the Post calls Amelle a “parenting influencer.” Heaven forbid.
OK, Zoomer. Yours is the generation that also believes that birds aren’t real and that the millennia-old impulse to worship someone greater than us isn’t worthwhile, even though there is overwhelming evidence that it is. Yours is the generation that speaks of being deeply depressed and highly anxious about climate change. Not only do you need an infusion of magic and happiness, but so do your children. And there’s evidence that belief in Santa and the anticipatory rituals that so many children (and even adults) enjoy — from writing letters to leaving out milk and cookies — make us happy in ways that hanging out on TikTok does not.
Fortunately, the new Deseret/HarrisX poll shows that sanity still prevails when it comes to Santa, and the jolly old elf still has lots of life left in him.
Yes, some people who believed in Santa as a child are not passing Santa on to their children, but their numbers are small and within the poll’s margin of error. Santa households still outnumber Santa-less households by far, and not just because boomers like me believed.
In fact, millennials are the most pro-Santa Americans of all — 83% of people ages 35-49 are teaching or will teach their children about Santa, compared to 81% of people 65 and older who were pro-Santa parents.
There was some slippage among the youngest adults, but even then, 79% of those ages 18-34 said they are teaching, or plan to teach, their children to believe in Santa.
So rumors of Santa’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, and we can now resume our regular holiday programming, which, for optimal enjoyment, should include the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s official tracking of Santa’s travels this weekend.
The NORAD Santa tracker is counting down to Saturday’s flight and is, to my mind, possibly the best use of taxpayer dollars ever. Get those cookies ready. And don’t stop believing.