Exploring Santaphilia: Why Do Some People Find Santa So Sexy?

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Don't you just love Christmas? Writing out your Christmas list before presenting it to old St Nick as you sit on his lap and explain how you deserve to get what you want because you’ve been such a good girl…

It’s the very definition of wholesome festive fun, right?

Well, sexual innuendo and cheeky overtones aside, these types of tropes likely form the basis of some of our most cherished childhood memories. But you may be surprised to hear that some adults have a less than healthy obsession with Santa Claus. That's right, some people are so into Santa that it becomes an actual fetish: Santaphilia!

Now, much like some of the other more niche, radical, or otherwise genuinely ‘unusual’ fetishes - such as acnephilia for example, Santaphilia is pretty hard to define. It doesn’t appear in the journal of clinical psychology, and even the omnipotent Google gods are not particularly forthcoming with anything concrete. 

While searching for a definition to put into this article, the closest thing we could use was a few lines from the ever-popular and oh so credible Urban Dictionary. It describes Santaphilia as the following:

“An unhealthy obsession for Santa Claus. It can also turn into a sexual obsession/fetish.

Guy: Hey, you really need to get out more, you've been playing with your Santa doll all evening

Girl: What do you expect? I’m Santaphilic!!!”

While this fetish might seem unusual, there is evidence to suggest that there are definitely some kinky folks out there who do feel a certain level of physical sexual attraction to Father Christmas! 

Yep - it’s true. There is clearly something about an overweight, aging guy with a jolly laugh and big white beard that just gets us ladies (and some guys) hot under the collar. 

Santa is sexy - and there are stats to prove it

In fact, one study actually found that Santa is a secret fantasy for 20% of women! That one in five of those having a secret saucy fantasy about old St Nick. Now, an article in the Journal of scientific blogging did state that this study was conducted by a site called benaughty.com, so it does stand to reason that the types of people taking the survey were probably a little more inclined to be kinky or otherwise non-mainstream. But that doesn't change the fact that the research revealed that of more than 1000 women who were asked whether they find the jolly, mythical figure attractive, 20% said yes!

The survey also revealed:

  • In total, 12,102 female  members were surveyed through the website from 1 - 5 December 2008 and were asked 'Do you find Santa Claus fanciable or sexy?'
  • 11,009 male and female members were also surveyed through the website from 1 - 5 December and were asked 'Have you ever dressed in a Santa Claus or Mrs. Santa Claus outfit in the bedroom?
  • The survey also revealed that one in 16 (6%) men had, at one time or another, dressed up as Santa Claus in the bedroom.
  • Men from Cardiff (UK) were the most prolific - more than one in 10 (11%) said they had dressed as Saint Nick for their partner. 

On top of that, 10% admitted to dressing up as Santa themselves in the bedroom. You only need to look at the popularity of sexy Santa outfits to see that this particular kink is not anything out of the ordinary.

Why do people find Santa sexy?

So, why is it that people, women specifically, can end up developing a sexual fascination with jolly old Saint Nicholas?

The answer is likely very complicated. It could be the fact that he brings presents! After all, who doesn't like gifts?  Or it could be the fact that he smiles and laughs a lot, and is obviously kind and has a friendly nature. You feel comfortable with him. You feel at ease.

It might even be down to the fact that he is, essentially, a guy in uniform. When award-winning sex educator Justin Lehmiller surveyed 4000 people for his book Tell Me What You Want, he found that 48 percent of them reported having fantasized about someone in uniform before. 

Now, we’re pretty sure that Santa wasn’t listed as part of the criteria here - it’s more likely to include things like firefighters or nurses and doctors - but we can assume that people do just find costumes and uniforms sexy in general.

But simply wearing a costume and bringing people presents doesn’t automatically turn someone into an object of sexual desire. So, what other reasons could be causing people to be attracted to Santa? What, exactly, makes Santa so sexy?

Santa is a father figure

There is also the theory that some women may find Santa sexually attractive because he embodies a lot of the elements that traditional father figures do. Most accounts he is described as having a kind and nurturing personality, bringing joy and protection to children.

This idea is backed up by Debra Walsh from Instant Counselling, who was asked by the Metro to analyze this peculiar fetish - in an article exploring Santaphilia. She believes this could all go back to childhood memories manifesting deep within:

“This perception of Santa being a 'father figure', representing warmth and security is a big attraction to certain people, believes Debra. And for everybody who doesn't have "daddy issues", Debra claims that the fetish is purely because Santa is "mythical, unobtainable figure whom they have projected their sexual fantasies towards."

Santa ignites our inner submissive

The fact that Santa is an authority figure - requiring us to 'play nice' in order to get what we want might be something that appeals to the latent submissive inside all of us - and could go some way toward explaining why some of us find him so arousing. 

An article on warpedspeed delved a little further into the idea of sexy Santa, and why we may have Santa fetishes. The article touched upon the Santa fetishes of different users of the fetish website FetLife, and research conducted among its userbase. It showed that:

"people enjoyed the concepts of tickling, meeting strangers, and sitting on someone’s lap without wearing underwear, all things that Santa can provide.

One group in particular shed some light on this unusual fantasy. The group called “Getting a Spanking from Santa Claus” allowed for dozens of people to explore their fantasy."

Santa is the perfect dominant

The article on warpedspeed also included a quote from sex educator Sunny Megatron - which goes some way toward explaining the multi-layered symbolism surrounding Santa. He's both kind, and formidable - a jolly father figure, and also big bad daddy. He's the "ultimate dom" in the words of Sunny herself:

“We can’t hide anything from Santa because he carefully watches us every minute of the day [and] although the threat of being on his naughty list is ever-present and terrifying, we always end up getting rewarded handsomely in the end. Santa is the perfect mix of hyper masculine authority and nurturing, empathetic provider.”

Is Father Christmas the same as Santa?

While today we might use the two terms interchangeably (after all they are both referring to the same guy), this is not actually the case. The two different terms are actually derived from two different and distinct historical figures,  both of which have their own histories. The name Santa Claus actually comes from the Dutch name a name Sinter Klaas, for St Nicholas.

Now, what you might not know about St Nicholas is that he is officially recognized by the church as the patron saint of sex workers! There is a very famous story about St Nicholas in which he gives three poor and starving sisters dowries in order that they might get married. Basically, he saves them from a life of having to sell their bodies to make a living. What a guy!

St Nicholas was the Bishop of Maria in Turkey fourth century A.D, so historically speaking Santa Claus (the American derivative of St Nick) is something of an ancient figure and historical motif.

But what about Father Christmas, you may ask?

Well, Father Christmas is not so squeaky clean as his St Nick counterpart. The figure of Father Christmas first appears as a mysterious symbol associated with midwinter festivals. There is a 15th century hymn in which we have some evidence of Father Christmas, popping up in what is probably the earliest recorded instance of this mythological figure. 

After this, Father Christmas appears in plays, ballads, poems, and rhymes - where he takes on the form of a jolly, fat figure who's very much associated with mischief, naughtiness, and festivities. In fact, Inews even cites evidence that Father Christmas may have been considered something sexy as far back as 1646: 

“ “The Arraignment, Conviction and Imprisoning of Christmas" (1646) describes how “women dote after him; he helped them to so many new Gownes, Hatts, and Hankerches, and other fine knacks, of which he hath a pack on his back, in which is good store of all sorts, besides the fine knacks that he got out of their husbands.”

Oh Father Christmas, you old dog, you!

Sexy Santa in pop culture

If you still aren't sold on the idea that people find Santa sexually attractive, then I challenge you to look back through the Christmas songs, movies and cartoons over the last century, and tell me that you don't find at least one or two instances of cheeky double entendre and sexual innuendo when it comes to Santa!

The reason for this is likely similar to the very reason we fetishize Santa in the first place. There is something unmistakeably kinky about taking something so wholesome and virtuous as a religious holiday and a family-friendly character and subverting it into something a bit naughty. 

It flips the holiday on its head, making the whole thing seem a little bit taboo - Santa (the dominant) takes on the symbolic role of master, and we (the submissive), regress into a childlike state. This idea of Santa being at once family-friendly and also totally X-rated is somewhat of a taboo - so it’s no wonder, really, that it turns people on.

Santa as a sex symbol is not a new idea. You just have to know where to look.

In music

We've heard about mommy kissing Santa Claus, we had Kylie Minogue crooning about Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, not to mention Eartha kits sexy rendition of Santa Baby - in which she pleads:

"Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me

Been an awful good girl

Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight"

You cannot tell me that these words are not at least in some way suggestible - a grown woman referring to herself as an 'awful good girl' and addressing white-bearded father figure as 'baby', makes for subliminally steamy stuff. Whether or not the sexual overtones were intended in 1953 when the song was recorded does not matter (though it’s likely to be very much intentional). The way we engage with such lyrics today goes to show how we view this magical Christmas figure.

And it’s important to point out that Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby isn’t the only Christmas song that skirts dangerously close to being not about Christmas at all. Have a listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s  ‘Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney’, or even the more modern ‘Not Tonight Santa’ by Girls Aloud (featuring the fantastic line ‘I’ll let you peep inside my stocking if you show me yours’), and then see if you can’t envision Santa as a sex symbol.

In film

Just head on over to Google and type in ‘the sexiest Santas in movies” and you'll be surprised at what the results bring up. The mere fact that there are magazine articles, slideshows and listicles highlighting the top 5 or top 10 sexiest Santas in movies and tv just goes to show that we love the idea of a Santa we can get all hot under the collar about! 

Kurt Russel's take on Santa in ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ appears to be a popular choice (come on - it is Kurt Russel after all), along with Billy Bob Thornton's turn as Willie T Stokes in ‘Bad Santa’.

In fact, bad Santa is a pretty good representation of the fetishization Santa in film, now that we mention it. We see Willie begin a bumbling relationship with a hot bartender Sue (played by Lauren Graham), who just so happens to have a Santa Fetish! 

Sues fetish plays very much into the tropes we have already discussed (domination and daddy issues), but this serves as a plot device as well as an interesting exploration into the idea of 'sex with Santa'. To sue, Willie is an object – but as the relationship develops the Santa fetish becomes more second-hand, and we learn more about Willie's intimacy issues. The closer Sue gets - the more 'Santa-like' Willie actually becomes (in that he seems to have a character arc that at least bears some semblance of learning compassion and kindness).

Other representations of Santa being sexy on film do seem to be mostly within the realms of the adult film industry. Movies like 'Here Cums Santa', 'Santa is Coming All Over Town' and the eloquently titled 'I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas ... On My Face' as well as tons of others gives a glimpse into how we fetishize Santa, even when we don't have a Santa fetish.

In cartoons

While regarding Santa is something of a sex symbol in movies and music is one thing, cartoons are another matter. The way that Santa is represented in cartoons as it relates in any way to sex is often used as an artistic device for humor, rather than sexual gratification.

Put it this way, you only have to look at novelty Christmas cards to see what I'm talking about.

Cartoon images of Santa wearing a thong under his big red trousers as he puts presents under the tree, or pictures of Santa donning a leather vest and other dom gear as he whips his reindeer - all serve to make us laugh, rather than to make us horny. 

But, that's not to say that there aren't erotic depictions of Santa in cartoon form. Take a look at some Japanese Hentai (pornographic Anime), and you'll find some steamy scenes like 'Hentai Guy Takes Care of Lost Santa and Gladly Fucks Her' - for example. 

However, most cartoon erotic depictions (at least, most of the ones I came across while researching this article) do seem to show a female representation of Santa - rather than the traditionally male character. 

On the internet

It’s true, you really can find absolutely anything and everything on the world wide web. And Santa fetish fodder is no exception! Aside from the obvious things like ‘Sexy Santa XXX Videos’ you’ll likely find popping up on porn sites in the buildup to Christmas, you’ll also find other evidence of Santaphilia if you check out places like Reddit.

In one Reddit AMA with an ex-mall Santa (that’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ - so it’s kind of like an online interview with other Reddit users), a guy unabashedly confessed that “Some women say REALLY dirty shit to Mall Santas”. Other sites like ‘AdultConfessions give a glimpse into people’s fantasies about sitting on Santa’s knee and begging forgiveness about being a ‘bad girl’, and then subsequently feeling something hard forming in his lap. 

And, of course, if it wasn’t for the internet then we would never be able to experience the diverse and colorful world of self-published erotica! Santa-themed erotic short stories experience something of a surge in popularity every year - so consequently, more titles are added to keep up with the demand for new kinky Christmas content. 

So, is Santaphilia real?

You’ve heard all about the sordid history of Santa, and how he’s gone from father figure to sex symbol (and all the weird shades of grey in between). In light of all the anecdotal (as well as physical) evidence, it’s hard to deny the fact that some of us do, indeed, have a bit of a thing for old St Nick.

There’s no doubt that Santaphilia is real - but the question remains about just how popular and prevalent this particular fetish is. Simply finding Santa  ‘kind of sexy’ does not constitute a fetish, after all.

But - we can definitely say with some certainty that it is a popular kink.

A report from PornHub stated that there is a clear and definite spike in 'Santa' related porn searches around the festive period:

“While “Christmas” is the most popular seasonal search, “Santa” tops the list of related terms, increasing 447% compared to it’s average level"

This makes sense - since everything goes somewhat Santa-crazy around Christmas. But, it would be very interesting to see what the search volume is for the term 'Santa porn' in, say, July! Also, it would be fascinating to see how many women search, as opposed to men. We can assume that more men will be searching for sexy Santa content (PornHub even says that Men are 34% more likely to search for Christmas related terms compared to women), but just how many women does this equate to?

Another insightful statistic from the PornHub report stated that "Men are 44% more likely to search for Mrs. Claus and women are 121% more likely to search for Santa Claus". But, the report relates specifically to the 'festive period’.

In order to gain at least some insight into how popular Santa Claus is a sex symbol, we would likely have to know just how many people are searching "Santa porn" throughout the rest of the year.
After all, just like foot worship or buying used underwear, a Santa fetish is for life, not just for Christmas.