Aside from the letters in their names, Santa and Satan, it would seem, have little in common.
Residing in radically different climates, while both like to give, Santa prefers to give people gifts (but only at Christmas), while Satan prefers to give them hell (all year round).
Both also share an impressive list of aliases:
Santa is a.k.a. (Jolly) St. Nick (short for Nicholas), Father Christmas, or Kris Kringle, though there are more. (I’ll refrain from listing his name in other languages, though I can’t resist mentioning the German Weihnachtsmann–literally “Christmas Man,” which makes Santa sound like a super-hero.)
As for Satan, he is a.k.a. the Devil, the Evil One, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the ancient Serpent, or (with the definite article as) the Satan, and related to that, the Accuser of the brethren (so the old King James Version).
But whatever their differences or similarities, one would expect, especially in this day and age, that Satan and Santa would have at least this one thing in common:
No one would actually believe in either one of them.
According to a 2014 article in The Atlantic around 85% of 4-year-olds in America believe in Santa. By age 8, however, only 25% remain convinced of St. Nick’s existence. And by age 12 (and older!) that percentage drops to a recalcitrant 2-3%.
But what about Satan?
Several polls from the last 2-3 years show that about 3 in 5 Americans believe in Satan. Among college graduates the percentage drops by only 10 percentage points, from 60% to about 50%. (In their defense, I can say that I had a statistics professor in college whom I suspected of being under demonic influence on more than one occasion–usually after receiving my test scores.)
Why is this?