The question of how Santa manages to visit each and every child in time for Christmas morning is one that many mathematicians are trying to solve every year.
This year, Imprint has taken on the task of using statistics to bring to you our own version of how we think Santa manages to deliver all his presents by Christmas day.
According to the UN population division, there are around 1.9 billion children in the world under the age of 14. Not all of these children, however, are expecting gifts from Santa on Christmas day.
Christmas traditions are not exclusive to Christian families since the modern world has commercialized the holiday enough for non-religious families to enjoy it.
The Pew Research Center’s study, “The Global Religious Landscape,” found that 31.5 per cent of the world is Christian and 16.3 per cent is unaffiliated with any religion.
Given that statistic, and the fact that we are considering both children of Christian families and children of non-religious families, it should be important to note here that the study found that 76 per cent of those who identified as unaffiliated reside in the Asian-Pacific region.
On whychristmas.com, it is stated that Christmas is not largely celebrated in the dominant country in that region, China, and many people don’t know too much about the holiday. Since this is relatively significant, it can be safe to assume here that only 3.9 per cent of the world’s unaffiliated population would celebrate Christmas.
Loosely speaking, this adds up to 35.4 per cent, or 673 million of the world’s children who could expect Santa to pay them a visit on Christmas (barring those children under 14 who have been exposed to the cold hard truth).
The Pew Research Center has also stated that Christianity is one of the most evenly dispersed religions throughout the world, so we will also assume that Santa spends approximately the same amount of time in each of the 24 time zones.
That would mean that there are 28 million children in each time zone. This doesn’t mean that Santa Claus has to visit each of these 28 million children individually though. Many people have more than one child and with this in mind, we just have to calculate how many households that Santa must visit.
A loosely calculated average based on the OECD-32 statistics, which encompases a large portion of the countries we are considering, has resulted in an average of two children per household, which means that Santa has to visit 14 million households in the span of an hour during midnight to one o’clock when the children are fast asleep.
By this, it means that Santa has to deliver presents to 4,000 houses per second!
How does he do it?
As the world’s population expands, so does the number of Santa’s elves (how they do this is up to the reader’s discretion). As the world’s technology advances, so does the quality of Santa’s technology. And as the demand for presents increases, so does the pressure for Santa to outsource his labour.
This is why in each timezone, Santa employs thousands of elves equipped with package carrying drones to visit each of the households. Of course, being the jolly fat man he is, he selectively chooses those households with the best treats laid out for him for a personal visit.
Although this theory might seem to take the magic away from Christmas, it incentivizes children to learn about the true meaning of Christmas — the gift of giving.
Those who are most generous with their treats will be rewarded with a personal visit from Santa instead of having their gifts delivered by mere drones.
Graphic by Casey Mao.