America Speaks: Why did they stop believing in Santa Claus – and who broke the news?

Candice JaimungalSocial Media Contributor
December 08, 2020, 3:00 PM GMT+0

Half (49%) of Americans say they stopped believing in Santa Claus before the age of 10, according to a recent YouGov poll.

Related: How old is too old to believe in Santa Claus?

But why do Americans stop believing in Father Christmas – and who is responsible for breaking the illusion? We asked our YouGov Chat users to dig deeper and share their stories on why they stopped believing in Santa. You can join the conversation here.

Siblings – specifically older brothers and sisters – seem to be a popular culprit in shattering the belief of Santa for Chat users.

  • “Older sibling spilled the beans along with older friends.”
  • “My older brother showed me the toys Santa was going to bring me.”
  • “My brother who was 4 years older mentioned it, then I paid attention to some details which proved he was correct.”
  • “My sisters spilled the beans.”

Other users caught their parents in the act.

  • “I caught my Dad putting the presents under the tree in the middle of the night.”
  • “I caught my mom and dad doing Santa's job.”
  • “I saw my mom sewing the wedding dress, late at night, for the new doll I had asked for. I pretended to believe in Santa that year.”

Some YouGov Chat users recall a more direct approach from their parents...

  • “I was writing a letter to Santa and my mom politely told me, nicely.”

  • “Mom and Dad told us.”
  • “My mom sat me down and told me. I already knew but was furious that she told me.”

while teachers and peers broke the illusion for others.

  • “Kindergarten teacher told us there was no such thing as Santa.”
  • “Kids at school told me.”

  • “My Kindergarten teacher told us, in one fell swoop, that there was no Santa, no tooth fairy, and no Easter Bunny. She had a class full of crushed kids!”
  • “A classmate told me he wasn't real. Made sense.”
  • “My best friend, who was two years older than me, told me the truth. I never trusted anything my parents told me again.”

But not all Chat users were told the truth about Santa. Some users became their own private investigators, stating the proof was in the handwriting.

  • “I realized Santa and my mom had the same handwriting...”

  • “I recognized the handwriting on presents from Santa.”
  • “Mom’s handwriting and Santa’s were the same.”

One user even took to quantum physics to break the Santa code.

  • “I calculated that even if he could travel the speed of light, he could not deliver gifts within the span of a single night.”

And while a few users can’t seem to remember...

  • “I don’t remember, that was 68 years ago...”
  • “I'm 83 years old. how the h*ll would I remember.”
  • “It was over forty years ago. I can't remember!”

There are still some that say they still believe in jolly old Saint Nicholas...

  • “Santa Lives!”

  • “Yes. However, I never stopped believing in Santa Claus because I have always been a child at heart.”
  • “I am 70 and I still believe in Santa Claus.”
  • “I never stopped believing in Santa. Still do.”
  • “I still believe! The spirit of Santa Claus lives within me!”

Additional YouGov Chat responses indicated that some users stood on the other end of the story – and had told someone who believed in Santa Claus that Santa does not exist.

  • “When I was a kindergartener, I loudly proclaimed the truth to my class. They were upset, and our teacher was upset, too.”
  • “I told little sister because she was annoying me.”
  • “When I was a teenager, I let it slip to a younger child on the school bus. Her family got mad, and I had to talk with her, explaining how there is a Santa Claus and I had been wrong before.”
  • “I told my children that there is no such person as Santa. I told them the story of St Nicholas and that the gift giving represents the gifts the Wise men gave to Jesus.”
  • “I told my younger brother -- He ran to our father for confirmation -- Father then broke the bad news to him.”

  • “I told my daughter. I told her he still existed as the spirit of Christmas, but not the jolly guy who lands his sled on our roof the enters our house.”


Every day, members of YouGov Chat are asked to share their opinion on a topic in the news. We allow anyone to take part in these chats, and do not display or weight results in real-time. Instead, to make the experience informative but still interactive, the chat displays weighted data from YouGov Direct to show them how the rest of the country voted. This enables us to pose the question to all, while retaining data accuracy and validity when communicating results.

YouGov Chat seeks to add to the ‘what?’ (the quantitative poll result) by finding the ‘why?” (qualitative open ends) in a member’s own words. Learn more about YouGov Chat here.

Image: YouGov

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