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Pew: Just 1 in 5 kids believe in Santa Claus

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Polls,Holidays

An elf-sized 19 percent of adults say their at-home children believe in Santa Claus, and of them, just seven in 10 plan to “pretend” that St. Nick will visit their house on Christmas Eve, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The new poll on how Americans celebrate Christmas found that belief in Santa was highest among children in younger families, those aged 30 to 49, but at a still-low 38 percent. Baby Boomer parents, meanwhile, said that their kids still at home have apparently outgrown Santa, with just 8 percent believing in the jolly old guy.

Pew’s findings also suggest that parents today don’t play Santa the way their parents did, with 72 percent telling the pollster that Santa "visited" their homes with presents as kids years ago, but just 31 percent planning a visit this Christmas.

The "bah, humbug" spirit continued in other areas. For example, just 16 percent of adults polled plan to go caroling, and only 54 percent will attend religious services Christmas Eve or Day, a drop from 69 percent when they were children.

Overall, the poll depicts an adult America that embraces the old Norman Rockwell style of Christmas much less today.

From Pew:

One-in-five adults say they are the parent or guardian of a child in their household who currently believes in Santa Claus. An additional 14% of Americans are parents or guardians of at least one child under the age of 18 but say their children do not believe in Santa Claus. (About two-thirds of Americans are not the parents or guardians of any children in their household.)

Nearly six-in-ten Hispanics say they are parenting minor children in their homes, including 38% who have children who believe in Santa Claus. By comparison, fewer blacks and whites say they currently have Santa-believing children (21% and 15%, respectively), in part because blacks and whites are less likely than Hispanics to have minor children in the home.

Being the parent or guardian of a child who believes in Santa Claus is most common among Americans ages 30-49. Nearly two-thirds of respondents in this age group (63%) say they are parents, including 38% who have a child who believes in Santa Claus. Compared with those in their 30s and 40s, both younger adults and those 50 and older are less likely to be parenting children and to have children who believe in Santa.

Among those who have a child who believes in Santa Claus, seven-in-ten (69%) say they plan to pretend that Santa visits their house on Christmas Eve this year. But even among U.S. adults without a child who believes in Santa, sizable numbers plan on receiving a visit from Old St. Nick. Roughly one-in-five parents whose children do not believe in Santa (18%) say they will pretend to get a visit from Santa this year, as do 22% of those who are not the parents or guardians of minor children in their household.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they typically received Christmas Eve visits from Santa as children. This includes big majorities of those age 65 and older (who were raised in the 1940s, 1950s and earlier) as well as those who grew up several decades later in the 1980s and 1990s.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.