Calculating Santa's Workload

(Photo: Bart Fields)

Philip Bump at The Atlantic attempts to answer an important question: what exactly is Santa’s Christmas Eve workload?  He considered both the number of Christian children in the world and the geographic distribution of those children and reaches the following conclusion:

There are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second. Totally doable.

Especially when you consider the uneven distribution of kids in the world. Santa needs to hit 22 million kids every hour. If Santa starts at the International Date Line and heads west, the first four time zones he passes barely contain that many kids waiting for presents. He’s already got three hours in the bank. Until, you know, he gets to Europe, which kind of breaks his schedule.

Bump offers a few caveats: not everyone celebrates on Dec. 25; some Christians don’t celebrate, while some non-Christians still expect a visit from Santa, etc. Overall, though, we think it’s a pretty good estimate — check out the post for detailed graphs.

Eric M. Jones.

Somebody has to say it!

There IS no Santa Claus!

Steve S.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where is your evidence?

Caleb b

Okay, I was watching a Christmas Carol yesterday and I couldn't help to think: Bob Cratchit - stop having so many damn kids man!!

Also, when you're watching It's a Wonderful Life, look at how fun Potterville looks with all that nightlife! Plus, Bailey was dealing in Subprime mortgages!

Things to t


It should be noted that despite the name (a blatant attempt by the early Church to supplant the festivals of other religions), Christmas doesn't have, and never has had, much to do with being Christian. The winter solstice festival was celebrated at least three thousand years before there even were any Christians.

Jeffrey L.

They forgot to calculate the naughty-to-nice ratio of Christmas celebrating children.


Time zones? Assuming Santa only works at night, this should give him 35 to 36 hours in which to work his miracle. Now he has a more relaxing rate of 4066 kids a second.


Dutch kids get their presents from Sinterklaas on December 5th. But they always insist that Sinterklaas and Santa Claus are not the same person.

keith thomas

I thought everybody knew that he stops time. Therefore has much longer to deliver his gifts.


My daughter & I were discussing Santa's schedule a couple evenings ago. He actually has more 36 hours to make all of his deliveries. In the 45+ degree latitudes in the Northern hemisphere it is fully dark for more than 13 hours of the day.


I think most children out of the anglo-saxon world get their presents from little Jesus and his helping angels in the evening of 24th of December. I think it is way more traditional... So actually, Santa has less workload.

Or there is competition. Or tacit collusion?

Thomas F.

I disagree on the basis that Santa has a much larger workload than is estimated here.

Santa's reach is greater than just Christians - he's an icon for the commercialization of Xmas. While the number of us who actively celebrate Xmas as a symbol of consumerism and free-markets in general is likely small, the number of people who actively participate in the gift giving Xmas spirit - but yet don't actively participate in any traditionally associated religion - is likely large.

I would also like to note that these numbers should include the adults who use Santa as a cute way of gift giving, normally to their spouses or friends. Santa Clause is no longer just a children's character!


Actually there is a simpler solution: Franchise!