Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Santa Fetish

By Mark Hay

Many people have never had so much as one fleeting sexual thought about Santa Claus. And that makes sense, given that the modern version of the mythic gift-giver evolved alongside efforts to rebrand Christmas from an irregular but often debauched affair into a family-friendly and corporate-sterile holiday. But a few folks see this conspicuously G-rated icon during the holiday season and get horny as hell

 

“I have fantasized about being over Santa’s knee, being spanked by him, then being on my knees in front of him, made to do unspeakable things,” Sofia Sømer, an erotic masseuse, told Zipper Magazine. She says her fantasy is so intense she’s gotten wet just seeing a mall Santa in the wild and thinking about sitting on his lap.“It was definitely a mind fuck,” she added. 

 

People like Sømer often refer to their intense attractions to Old Saint Nick as a Santa fetish. And they know it can be hard for others to wrap their heads around it. In fact, when the mainstream media acknowledges “Santaphilia,” authors often feel the need to offer da fuq? disclaimers. “While fetishes aren’t exactly that uncommon,” writer Alakananda Bandyopadhyay noted in one article, “certain types of them do get way too bizarre… like this one.”

 

But beyond the initial shock and knee-jerk incredulity they inspire, Santa fetishes aren’t nearly as inexplicable—or as rare—as many people seem to think they are. In fact, they’re arguably just a unique manifestation of more widely-accepted kinks. Delving into the dynamics of these desires can reveal greater insights about fetishes overall. 

So What Is A Santa Fetish?

 

There is no widely-accepted definition of a Santa fetish—even in expert sexological literature. “While [the term] may have been around for a while in the kink community… it has not been part of the clinical diagnostic nomenclature,” sex therapist Dr. Tammy Nelson told Zipper. “It’s more colloquial… It’s not an academic term.” 

 

Academics and therapists often do use the term fetish very specifically to refer to something a person always needs in order to get off, Nelson added. So in theory, to an academic santaphilia would mean that an individual is “sexually aroused by Father Christmas and Father Christmas only,” as Dr. Mark Griffiths, a psychologist who studies kinks and fetishes, put it. A kink is a more general erotic inclination towards something that’s not usually sexualized or part of mainstream sex. But in real-world practice, most folks in and beyond the kink community use “fetish” in a much looser and more liberal fashion, often even interchanging it freely with kink.  

 

The NSFW artist Acrasial (he/they) says that their Santa fetish extends outwards to an erotic interest in “Christmas themes in general,” while others keep it focused on Father Christmas himself. For some, any roleplay incorporating Santa’s outfit or situations like sitting on Saint Nick’s lap and talking about his naughty list scratches the itch. But others really need someone with the archetypal Santa body and mien to make it work. 

The exact shape of an individual’s Santa fetish, and the ways in which they want to enact it, may depend in part on the route that led them to the old man, and the mix of needs he fills for them.

This terminological squishiness sometimes leads to confusion within discussions of the fetish on kink forums and social media platforms: 

 

  • I’m into overtly sexy Santa costumes. Do I have a fetish? 

 

  • My partner and I like to roleplay as Santa and Mrs. Claus once a year. Do we fall into this bucket? 

 

 

No one Zipper spoke to had any interest in setting boundaries around the fetish. They all stressed that everyone’s erotic relationship with the idea of Santa will likely be unique. But Criscura, another NSFW artist with a thing for Santa, did suggest that, “If you look at the big man himself and go, maybe ‘Santa Baby’ had a point,” then you may want to interrogate that. 

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.

Okay, But Why Are People Into Santa?

 

In spite of all the haziness surrounding the shape and size of the world of Santa fetishes, over the last five years a handful of sex therapists, researchers, and educators have tried to dissect why it is that some people get so hot for Saint Nick. And their explanations are just all over the place.  

 

Many argue that Santa is the ultimate Daddy Dom. He’s a kind yet firm, soft yet strong, capable older man who’s always watching us, asking us exactly what we want, and ready to give us just what we need—or to punish us—when the time is right. As sex psychologist Justin Lehmiller wrote in a 2020 article on Santa porn, “When you think about it that way, Santa is… tailor-made for role-playing in BDSM scenes.” (Which is why he’s typically a dom in porn—although scenes that invert his obvious role as the ever-watching daddy, and see him punished are not unknown.) 

 

He’s also an absolute Polar Bear, which is basically a cross between a Bear and a Silver Fox. That certainly feeds into the daddy vibe—and fills a distinct body-type interest for some fetishists. 

A few sexperts, however, argue that Santa is a warm, safe figure, and some people latch onto, and sexualize, the security he represents. Others still suspect that people may just get off on transgressing the wholesome and religious nature of Christmas, as personified in Santa Claus. Or that people just like mixing the joy of the holidays with eroticism. Or that Santa plays into people’s sexual interests in beards, uniforms, or just the color red. Maybe his shiny black (often leather) boots and soft velvet coat do it for some people as well, suggests Nelson. 

 

This diversity of ideas about why people might develop a fetish for Santa probably isn’t a sign of ill-informed sexpert flailing. Instead, it’s a sign of just how many elements of Saint Nick people could potentially latch onto. In fact, Santa’s clear latent sex appeal led at least three writers to declare him an unsung sex symbol in 2020—independent of any dedicated fetish built around the man. The sex blogger Emma Austin even stated that, if she hadn’t “been brainwashed by his G-rated public image,” she suspects that she might have her own sexual fantasies about him. 

 

“He hits every mark of what you’d look for in an ideal partner,” Criscura argued. “He’s caring, open, and fun-loving. He’s clearly good enough with communication that everyone on earth can tell him their deepest desires and he’ll not only understand but respond… He’s old enough to have plenty of experience with the world but still viable enough to participate fully in it. That’s nothing to say of him being a Silver Fox, and that he’s rich and famous with a stable job.”

Most of the fetishists Zipper spoke to suspect that these experts were right on the money—that as a Santa fetish doesn’t just reflect one point of interest, but many. “For most people I know who are into this, it’s more of a tie-in to existing fetishes than a primary fetish,” explained Acrasial. 

 

“My Santa fetish plays into my daddy fetish, my leather fetish, fatherly themes,” they added. 

 

“I’ve always loved older men, and kindness mixed in with some kink is hot,” said Sømer. “I can also imagine the feel of the fur trim of his suit, the sound of that huge buckle as he undoes it.” 

 

The exact shape of an individual’s Santa fetish, and the ways in which they want to enact it, may depend in part on the route that led them to the old man, and the mix of needs he fills for them. 

 

No matter how intense their interest in Santa is, however, none of the fetishists Zipper spoke to for this article said they lust for Santa year-round. Sure, Chris and Sømer said they could go for a Christmas-in-July photo shoot or roleplay session, respectively. But most people with Santa fetishes seem to see it as a seasonal infatuation. This contextual nature alongside the mix of other fetishes at play have led some folks to question whether Santa fetishes are really a distinct thing

 

“Santa kink is just festive Daddy kink. change my mind [sic],” one individual tweeted in 2018

 

“Is a Santa fetish really just a daddy fetish dressed up for the holidays?” another tweeted in 2020

 

Zipper could try to hash out the validity of claims or questions about the distinctiveness or legitimacy of Santa fetishes. But really, what’s the point? Because in the end, Santa fetish is just an amorphous term any for sexual potential identified in an iconic mythological figure. And if some folks can have some fun safely and sanely playing with that potential, then who cares what they’re drawing on? 

 

Merry Kinkmas to all, and to all a good night! 

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Mark Hay

Mark Hay is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who covers sex and sexuality, among other beats. You can also find his work in The Daily Beast, Mel Magazine, VICE, and many, many other outlets.

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