British public would welcome an ethnically diverse Santa – but as long as he’s not gay or a woman

He is traditionally depicted as an elderly white man, but Father Christmas could get more ethnically diverse in the future to reflect the attitudes of the British public. 

Around 50 per cent of Britons say they are supportive of an ethnic minority Santa, with the number rising among younger populations, according to a survey by YouGov. 

But British people are less accepting of a female or a gay Santa, with only 27 per cent and 39 per cent finding this acceptable, the survey found. 

The poll was commissioned in response to an advert released by the Norwegian postal service, which showed Father Christmas kissing a man. 

The advert was released to mark 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in the country and prompted a largely positive response, although some critics suggested it has sexualised Santa or was cheating on Mrs Claus. 

Forty-one per cent of British respondents to the YouGov survey said it was not acceptable for Father Christmas to be depicted as gay, including 17 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents. 

The results were largely divided along age and gender lines, with 42 per cent of women believing its fine to have a gay Santa, and only 36 per cent of men. 

The advert for the Norwegian postal service which features a gay Santa Claus

More people from all age groups below the age of 49 also thought a gay Father Christmas was ok than thought it was unacceptable, including 60 per cent of 18-24 year olds. 

But above the age of 50 this was flipped, with more thinking it was not ok, including 58 per cent of those over 65. 

When it comes to Santa’s ethnicity, around 50 per cent said they were happy with a diverse Father Christmas, compared to 80 per cent who said it was acceptable for him to be white. 

Younger age groups were more happy to see a Santa from a different race, and less happy for him to be white, compared to the general population. 

A Middle Eastern Santa had the highest level of acceptability, perhaps reflecting his origins as Saint Nicholas, a fourth century monk who lived in modern day Turkey. 

Modern depictions of Santa as a large, bushy-bearded man in a red and white suit can be traced back to the early 20th century, particularly Coca Cola’s adverts of the 1930s. 

Respondents in the UK were less open to a non-white Santa than those in the US, where around two-thirds of those surveyed in a similar poll said they were happy to see a black Santa, and some 58-60 per cent comfortable with him being Asian or Middle Eastern. 

What race can Santa be?

In 2016, Mall of America, the country’s biggest shopping centre, hired its first black Santa. 

Despite divisions over race and sexuality, respondents were broadly aligned that Santa should not be a woman. 

Young people aged 18-24 were the only group who felt it was acceptable to have Mrs Claus take the reins, with 45 per cent saying it was ok compared to 31 per cent who said it was not. 

Women also felt that Santa should be male, at 56 per cent compared to 25 per cent, closely reflecting the responses from the general population. 

Matthew Smith, YouGov’s head of data journalism, said the results reflected those of a similar question on the depiction of James Bond.

“This suggests that opinion towards Father Christmas is not unique to the character himself, and may instead reflect a broader set of attitudes on making changes to firmly established pop culture figures,” he said. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *