Research from the ’70s and from experts today demonstrate that kids’ belief in Santa continues to drop off around the same age.
I’m the firstborn, so the magic and splendour of a fat jolly man who travelled the globe in a single night doling out gifts to the nice kids was mine to cherish for as long as I wanted. With no older siblings to rain on my Christmas parade, I went on believin’ until I was eight (at which point a girl whose name starts with R and ends in “ebecca” told me that my parents stashed my gifts in their closet—she wasn’t wrong). But, according to VERY IMPORTANT CHRISTMAS RESEARCH, my Santa revelation was right on par with other kids.
Broken down, the 1978 research showed that 85 percent of four-year-olds believed wholeheartedly, while 65 percent of six-year-olds and only 25 percent of eight-year-olds were still down with Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. In terms of Santa’s believe-o-meter, three- and four-year-olds generate the most juice, because that’s when they first start to understand the magic of Santa. By age eight, kids begin to acknowledge the unlikeliness of one man travelling the world in a single night.
The good news? If you started the tradition of Elf on the Shelf in your household, you can likely send the elf into early retirement around your child’s eighth Christmas.