And if something clicks when you do—if you feel a deep and ineffable pull towards Kris Kringle—then why not roll with it and see where it takes you?”
While there’s something liberating in this malleability—an utter lack of gate-keeping—Acrasial points out that it likely reflects the fact that there’s no real community or digital discourse around Santa fetishes. In fact, while Acrasial and one other person Zipper spoke to say they know a few folks who share the fetish, everyone else we spoke to said they’d never met anyone else. “It’s nice to feel somewhat normal about it finally,” Sømer said of getting to talk about her fantasies.
The majority of digital chatter on the topic actually seems to involve someone joking about how a particularly rugged depiction of Santa, or sexed-up Christmas ad, is going to give them a fetish. Or someone who recently read erotica featuring the fetish, or watched 2003’s Bad Santa (which features a notorious Santa sex scene, and Lauren Graham as a love interest with a serious Christmas kink), asking whether it’s really a thing. (The earliest use of the term Santa fetish Zipper was able to find online was actually in a submission to an erotica forum, circa 2001.) Most people seem to think it is a fake kink.
Beyond the purely digital sphere, two experts on the lore of and modern culture built around Santa told Zipper that they’d never heard of Santa fetishes. And Griffiths stresses that “there is no empirical evidence of [the fetish’s] existence” that he’s aware of. “Personally, if it genuinely exists, I think it would be very rare,” he added. “There are probably more press stories on ‘santaphilia’ than there are people with a true fetish.”
In truth, the fetish may not actually be rare at all. Several individuals Zipper spoke to said they just don’t bring it up often because people often respond with shock, confusion, or outrage that anyone would sexualize what is for them a sacred, child-focused figure. Chris, who realized she has a Santa fetish about twenty years ago, said some erroneously seem to think she’s a pedophile because they associate her love for roleplaying sitting on Santa’s lap with a childhood activity. Understandably, this makes her especially cautious about sharing her fetish.
“As with many fetishes, it’s difficult to get accurate data on just how common” this kink truly is, noted Isabelle Uren, a sex writer with Bedbible who’s commented on Santa fetishes in the past—but admits she’s never met anyone with the fetish. Tabloids occasionally use the ubiquity of Santa porn, sexy Santa outfits, mainstream music and television that sexualizes Santa, and one tiny digital survey from 2008 to claim Santa fetishists are actually legion. But given how many of these depictions are jokes or gimmicks—especially mainstream Santa porn, which is made with an eye to humor and no apparent attention to fetishists’ desires—this “data” is not at all definitive, or even reliable.
Still, Criscura noted that, “saying ‘it’s a joke’ only works so long” before you have to assume that there’s something more than just humor to the slew of sexualized Santas pervading pop culture. And the likely logic underlying the fetish for most folks may suggest that, while perhaps it’s not ubiquitous, it’s also probably far less rare than the digital chatter surrounding it suggests.