A study was conducted by researchers from Harvard University to investigate the factors that determined Santa Claus’s visit to children in hospitals on Christmas Day. The researchers conducted their research at British pediatric wards based in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The study’s results indicated that Santa Claus does not reward children based on how naughty or nice they have been in the last year, contrary to popular belief and tradition. Santa Claus is less likely to visit children in hospitals that belong to underprivileged neighborhoods. The study was published in BMJ.
The researchers carried out their research on 186 staff members of the pediatric wards during Christmas of last year. Santa Claus’s absence or presence was linked with students’ absent rate from primary school and conviction rate in young people (aged 10 to 17 years).
The researchers also calculated the distance from North Pole to hospital (closest city or town to the hospital in kilometers, as the reindeer flies), and also monitored the contextual socioeconomic deprivation (index of multiple deprivation).
Santa Claus visited most of the pediatric wards in all four British nations. In England he visited 89% of the pediatric wards, 93% in Scotland, 92% and 100% in Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively.
The probability of Santa Claus not visiting hospitals, however, was quite significant for pediatric wards in areas with higher socioeconomic deprivation in England (odds ratio 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.71) in England, 1.23 (1.00 to 1.54) in the UK). Meanwhile, there was no significant association with kids being absent from school, their rate of conviction, or distance between the hospital and the North Pole.
Santa Claus is a popular cultural figure in most Western countries. Santa Claus (also known as Saint Nicholas, St Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, or simply Santa) is known most famously for travelling around the world on his sleigh to hand out presents on 25th December, on Christmas Day.
Moreover, there’s a long-held belief that Santa Claus hands out gifts to children who are nice and not naughty. One of the reasons for this may be attributed to parents who want their kids to behave and instill in them good qualities of humanity.
The researchers with assistance of Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health called every UK hospital with a pediatric ward, and asked the staff members to discern someone who worked on Christmas Day 2015 and could corroborate Santa Claus’s arrival at the hospital, since hospital do not keep a record of Santa Claus visits.
The researchers noted down the name, post of the witness and whether or not the Santa Claus travelled to the ward they worked at. The researchers also extracted relevant information about other superheroes who visited the ward during the festive period. They collected data between July and August 2016.
The study successfully squashed the myth that only nice children receive a visit from Santa Claus. This might theoretically increase bad behavior in kids, knowing that they won’t be punished for their wrongful behavior.
One result of the study that surprised researchers was that Santa Claus did not differentiate children based on their country of origin, and the distance between hospitals and North Pole did not play a part in Santa’s visits. Therefore, it confirmed the popular belief that Santa is not affected by distance or time and is more than capable of delivering gifts around the world within a 24-hour period.
The researchers did not find any results to confirm whether Santa gave gifts based on their levels or niceness or naughtiness, but future surveys need to analyze each kid’s niceness levels to further clarify this notion.
Although, there is a lot of discrepancies in the current study about kids’ naughty or nice behaviors, as no kid would self-admit on being naughty and the data would have been aggregated and generalized; region wise, and subjected to uneven reporting.
Another major question that arose due to the results was “Why do children in the most deprived areas do not get to experience more frequent visits from Santa?” The researchers argued that one possibility could be that Santa Claus is forced to face existing socioeconomic inequality, as he is contractually obliged not to alter anyone’s socioeconomic status.
Giving children presents beyond their economic means might result in widespread controversy and conspiracy theories, and could lead to Christmas becoming political and thereby causing widespread criticism and dissatisfaction.
A lot of responsibility falls on to the shoulders of Santa Claus as he has to maintain delivering presents to every kid in spite of their low-income status, as socioeconomic politics play a massive role in determining Santa’s gift giving abilities.
More important than physical present is the gift of joy and happiness. Pediatric wards were a well-fitting setting for the study as a lot of kids are battling horrific diseases such as cancer and diabetes at such a young age.
Santa provides them with hope and positivity in a time of darkness in their lives. Their kindness comes in the form of nothing short of a miracle, where the kids can imagine living a healthy life full of ambition and glee. a simple visit from the Santa is enough to provide kids the determination to fight sickness. It is hoped that such traditions are continued for many years to come.