Excerpt from FiveThirtyEight
Written by Maggie Koerth-Baker
In 1897, an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the editor of the New York Sun to ask whether Santa Claus was real. Her friends had lost faith in the fat man, and Virginia reasoned that the Sun, which her father trusted implicitly, would tell her the truth and settle the matter once and for all.
But what’s really interesting about this story is that Virginia O’Hanlon was a bit of an outlier, clinging to her belief in Santa a little longer than most kids, relative to both her peers and her great-great-grandchildren. In 1896, a study of 1,500 children found that the mean age of loss of belief in Santa was 6.35 years. Nearly 100 years later . . .