The magic of Santa Claus is something all of us remember and cherish from Christmases gone by.
From letters addressed to the North Pole, cookies and milk (or something stronger) left out on Christmas Eve, to tracking present deliveries via an app, every family has festive traditions centered around Santa.
But there comes a time when every child questions the existence of the big man himself.
To find out where belief in Santa is strongest and where its dwindling in the UK, we analysed just how many children (and perhaps even adults) are asking Google: “Is Santa real?”
Sadly, belief in Father Christmas has fallen nationwide over the past three festive seasons, with the number of online searches for “Is Santa real?” up by nearly 50 percent in 2019 compared to 2016.
This means parents around the country face a holiday-long headache, trying to keep the magic of Christmas alive while dodging difficult questions.
Our analysis also reveals belief in Santa is lowest in Leicester, Belfast, Middlesbrough, Plymouth and Hull out of the 50 UK towns and cities studied. Whereas, children in Slough, Cardiff, Nottingham, Poole and Newcastle are the most likely to believe in the magic of Christmas:
Having the internet at our fingertips has, without a doubt, complicated things for parents. The problem has become so big, there’s now even a Google Chrome extension that filters out any pages revealing the truth about Santa.
Many parents dread the day that their child discovers the truth and are faced with a difficult decision over what to say. So, what should parents do?
To help, Stephanie Taylor, wellbeing expert and Founder of StressNoMore offers her top tips:
- Let them lead the discussion. Stop and listen to what your child is asking about Santa and the doubts they have. This will help you respond in an appropriate way.
- Remember, fantasy is good for kids. If you’re having a hard time lying, remember that imaginative play is a very important part of a child’s emotional and psychological development. A little escapism is also beneficial for adults too!
- Keep the tradition alive. Think back to when you were a child; how long did you play along believing in Santa when you knew the truth? Family traditions over the festive period are incredibly important for bonding and happiness, so let the kids in on the secret even if they’ve have made up their minds.
- Share the story of St Nicholas. Santa is a real person but goes by the name of St Nicholas. Teach your child about the values of this historical figure and how the spirit of Christmas is based on generosity, altruism, showing kindness for others and gratitude.