In the United States, the roots of Santa-denial can be found in President Nixon’s 1968 ‘Law and Order’ Campaign. In this, Nixon attempted to win over Democrat voters by adopting a tougher stance on crime. Santa was one of the first casualties of this philosophy. Using McCarthyist rhetoric, Republicans highlighted Santa’s redness, and noted that he not only trespassed into private property, but freely distributed presents whilst there (“Who’s going to pay for it all?” they asked). They cried that he was simply “too good to be true” – a mere Soviet myth!
The Santa-denial which survives today is undoubtedly a Cold War relic, maintained by a succession of power-hungry governments who see “being tough on Santa” as a sure-fire vote winner. But baffling inconsistencies remain. If Santa is indeed an imagined figure, then who does the Santa Tracker track? Where do the presents come from? Where do the letters go? These are all questions Santa-deniers cannot answer. Instead, they resort to trivial statistics. They focus on the speed of a sleigh, the lifespan of Reindeer, or the weight of eight billion presents. In doing so, they limit the conversation to exclusively academic circles. This festive season, remember that the discourse around Santa is carefully distorted to benefit those it keeps in power.
Merry Christmas all!