Survey discovers the age most Oregonians stop believing in Santa

Santa Claus at Capital City Mall

Santa waves to mall shoppers. Santa takes gift requests and poses for photos at Capital City Mall. December 4, 2023. Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.comDan Gleiter |

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Bad news for 4-year-olds who read OregonLive – Santa Claus isn’t a stranger with a beard who sneaks into your house one night a year and does a reverse robbery.

Good news though, for you 4-year-olds out there reading at fourth-grade level with unfettered access to the internet – if your family celebrates Christmas, you’re still probably going to get presents (hopefully books because you really don’t need to be online) and there won’t be any breaking and entering.

Why 4-year-olds? Well, according to a new survey from Bet Carolina, a North Carolina betting website (shrug and move on), most Oregonians stop believing in Santa Claus when they are 5 to 6 years old, so it’s really the 4-year-olds we need to worry about here, finding out the truth from this article.

Bet Carolina polled 3,000 Americans over 21 between Oct. 31 and Nov. 3 to get their results. What they discovered is that 35% of Oregonians who responded stopped believing in Santa when they were 5 or 6. From there, the numbers go down. The survey found that 26% of Oregonians stopped believing in Santa when they were 7 to 8, 19% when they were 9 to 10, 6% when they were 11 to 12 years old, 3% when they were 13 to 14 and 3% when they were 15 or older.

According to Bet Carolina, only 6% of respondents stopped believing in Santa when they were under 5. However, there is no mention of how many people never believed in Santa at all.

All of this is great news for me.

My thoughts on the Santa story are not a secret – I think it’s a capitalist myth that reinforces the idea that wealth equals value; it alienates people who don’t celebrate Christmas; it discounts parents’ labor and it sets a precedent for lying to your kids.

Therefore I’ve told my own child since birth that Santa is Mom and Dad.

Sometimes, I get pushback on this from other parents who are worried that my kid (a 4-year-old, that magical age) will tell their kid and “ruin the magic of Christmas.”

Setting aside the fact that the magic of Christmas is whatever you make it and doesn’t have to involve lying about Santa, I can’t wait to use this new data next time someone tells me my kid is going to ruin Christmas.

Clearly, the top year for actively believing in Santa Claus and talking about it, based on this, is the year you are 4.

Have you met a 3-year-old? They are fuzzy on most details and a lot of them still aren’t speaking clearly or in full sentences yet. And most 2-year-olds are basically babies.

So, if my 4-year-old told your 2 or 3-year-old Santa wasn’t real, I bet most of my money that the message would not translate the way you think it would. I mean, full transparency, I’ve told my child a million times that Santa isn’t real and even she doesn’t quite believe me since she doesn’t think we can possibly stay awake later than her.

If my 4-year-old told your 4-year-old, well, fair play. I doubt she would since she’s not convinced herself and I have trouble believing your 4-year-old would believe mine over you, but I also respect the right of peer 4-year-olds to hold philosophical debates on Santa.

If my 4-year-old relayed the message to your 5-year-old, which, see above, she probably wouldn’t, you’re 5-year-old is very likely already experiencing logic-based doubts and has also possibly heard the bad news from a 6-year-old or a 7-year-old or, god forbid, the most valued of sources to a small child: a teenager.

What I am saying, parents concerned that some other kid is going to tell their kid about Santa is: You’re right! Another kid is going to tell your kid and your kid might get really mad at you! But that’s on you, not the kids of the world who are trying to get to the truth using the resources available to them.

And to the 4-year-old geniuses still reading: Cut your parents some slack. They love you and they are just trying to give you a special time. Consider the sacrifice they are making, to stay up late and wrap presents from “Santa” instead of them. It’s hard to stay up late! Trust me, I know.

Now seriously, turn off the computer and go read a book.

Read more: What we talk about when we talk about Santa

— Lizzy Acker

503-221-8052;; @lizzzyacker

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