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'Santa real'? We Google for the truth, but a poll says we believe

December 23, 2011 | 11:26 am

Santa and unhappy camper.Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago apparently are packed with Santa doubters. Those are the top three cities globally for Google searches about whether Santa Claus is real.

Google searches for the phrases "Is Santa Claus real" and "Santa real" average about 300,000 per month globally -- but Christmastime is when the big rush occurs.

Searches (especially for the phrase "Santa real") jump in the days leading up to Christmas, says a report in Toronto's TheStar.com, and the searches have become more popular each year.

PHOTOS: Scared of Santa

Although three U.S. cities top the list, the site said, the Irish beat people in the U.S. when it comes to searching out the truth about Santa. Ireland is tops for Googling about whether Santa is real, according to the search engine.

Despite the doubts that grip us, Santa has a firm hold on our psyche, according to a new AP-GfK poll.

The survey earlier this month of 1,000 adults nationwide found that two-thirds of parents who had children younger than 18 believed Santa was an important part of their 2011 holiday celebrations. And St. Nick was even more popular than before the recession, among rich and poor, the poll found.

Half of those polled did say that Santa detracted from the religious significance of Christmas more than he enhanced it -- but, heck, they still loved him, with 71% of moms saying he was important, a big leap from 58% in 2006.  

It's no wonder he's so beloved among adults -- 84% of those surveyed believed in Santa as children. And most said it wasn't until they were about 8 years old that it wore off. Poll participant Matt Hoyt of Houston told the Associated Press that kids today might outgrow Santa even sooner: "They've got Google at their fingertips."

The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 8-12 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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-- Amy Hubbard+

Photo credit: dbugnpnut08

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