Counterpoint: Santa is neither man, nor woman. Santa is an eternal demon

New Zealand is engaged in a long-running, intense, and completely reasonable debate over whether Santa is a boy or a girl. Hayden Donnell offers his own equally reasonable addition to the discourse.

New Zealand is being torn apart by a single debate. For days now, people have been commenting angrily on Stuff Nation. The chairman of the Howick local board has been driven to write “boobies” repeatedly on Facebook. There have been tweets. The issue we’re collectively trying to resolve as a nation: does Santa have to be a man or can Santa sometimes be a lady?

The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges has addressed the issue, telling The AM Show Santa is a man “and that’s how it should be” before pleading mournfully, “I just want a few things I can believe in”. Stuff has run two polls, both of which have received a flood of responses saying Santa is, and can only be, a man. The Millennial wowsers at The Spinoff said “please stop talking” about Santa, before reversing course and asserting that Santa is actually a woman.

I’d like to thank The Spinoff for commissioning a third story on this issue, because neither side of this debate is correct. Santa is neither man, nor woman. The Santa is an eternal demon.


The facts are undeniable. The Santa is always old, but never dies. Its state is persistent; seemingly ungoverned by material laws. Its form is ceaseless and unchanging; as if it were begotten, not made. These are the qualities of only two things: Jesus, and a demon. The Santa is not Jesus.

Further, the Santa lives in a semi-mystical land, only loosely tied to reality. Its lodgings are ostensibly located at the North Pole. However repeated expeditions to the North Pole have found only starving polar bears and increasingly large expanses of water. This suggests the Santa’s home is not of our world, and its interaction with our time-bound dimension produces a kind of perverse parody of reality. To put it in terms readers will understand, Santa’s realm is like Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia, the Shimmer from Annihilation, or McDonald’s after 2am.


What purpose do the Santa’s ties to this world serve? It is impossible for a mortal to discern fully, but a close reading of the lore would suggest the Santa is here to torture us. It is worse than even the most capricious deity. “He” sees us when we’re sleeping, goes the song. “He” knows when we’re awake. “He” orders moral rectitude, so be good for the sake of his meagre annual reward.

Some of you are likely saying “this is stupid, why am I reading an argument that Santa is a demon?”. To you I ask, how is this any more stupid than having a national debate over the sex of an entity that does not exist? How is this any more idiotic than getting pant-wettingly uptight about whether a made-up jolly festive demon has boy bits?

Many others are probably clawing at your laptop screens right now, angrily remonstrating that Santa has always seemed to be a white man. But if you can’t conceive of a world where Santa is actually an eternal demon, maybe you’re guilty of believing the mishmash of cultural biases handed down to you by sexists, racists, and ad companies are somehow immutable truths about the Universe. In your world, every story we tell has to be the same as the ones that have always been told, and any attempt to change the narrative reduces you to a blubbering wreck crying “Santa has to be a boy” onto the Internet.

It’s time to stop clinging scared to your old reality and accept some new stories different to the ones handed down to you by a centuries-long succession of geriatric white men. Jesus was a brown-skinned Middle-Eastern man. It’s totally fine to wear bare feet in malls. Santa is an eternal demon.

Author’s note

Even if this is all impossible, and we can’t agree on the exact constitution of Santa’s genitals, we should be able to agree on one thing: Santa needs to be huge, and able to wink and beckon people into Christmas at the heart of Auckland’s CBD. Man, woman or demon, the jolly totem of December should usher us into the festive season with a wagging finger and a blinking eyelid.

New Zealand, we’ve been too divided over Santa. It’s time to unite over Santa. Restore the eye. Restore the finger. Make Christmas good again. Please sign my petition on

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