Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 67-84

First online:

Encounter with reality: Children's reactions on discovering the Santa Claus myth

  • Carl J. AndersonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Texas
  • , Norman M. PrenticeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Texas

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Fifty-two children who no longer believed in Santa Claus were individually administered a structured interview on their reactions to discovering the truth. Their parents completed a questionnaire assessing their initial encouragement of the child to believe in Santa and rating their child's reactions to discovering the truth as well as their own reactions to the child's discovery. Parental encouragement for the child to believe was very strong. Children generally discovered the truth on their own at age seven. Children reported predominantly positive reactions on learning the truth. Parents, however, described themselves as predominantly sad in reaction to their child's discovery.

Key words

Santa Claus Myth Fantasy Christmas Childhood