Children Stop Believing in Santa Because, On Some Level, They Knew it Was a Lie All Along
Do you remember when you stopped believing in Santa Claus? It was probably earlier than you think, because according to Slate children can actually intuit that Santa isn't real from an early age since, despite the fact that parents, teachers, and other authority figures are telling you to believe in this highly implausible person, even most infants have a sense of the fact that a figure like Santa pretty much defies physics and can't be real. According to a soon-to-be-released study by cognitive scientist Andrew Shtulman from Occidental College, the idea that a large man could fit through a chimney, fly across the sky with reindeer, and deliver presents to all the children in the world in an entire night violates our expectations about containment, spatiotemporal continuity, and support.
This isn't to say that children don't hold onto the belief that Santa is real for a long time. In fact, kids believe in Santa more than they believe in any other fantasy character because the cultural pervasiveness of Santa is unparalleled. And though I think that it's not necessarily healthy for children to carry the mythology of Santa Claus too seriously with them into adulthood, it's hard to deny the magic that comes with not being entirely sure, even if the concept of the large bearded man makes no sense at all.