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Macy's The Santa Project Sparks a World of Good

December 8, 2016 | Macy's News
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Virginia and Santa mail at Macy's

This holiday season, Macy’s is on a mission to reinvigorate optimism, creative thinking and positive rituals. Their scientifically-verified approach to doing this, which also stands to boost kindness and generosity in kids and adults, is centered on reviving a belief in Santa Claus and traditions related to the belief. 

As part of its annual Believe campaign, Macy’s has created The Santa Project, designed to keep the magical story of Santa alive and spread belief during an era characterized by information overload and, all too often, cynicism. The project calls on people of all ages to express their belief in Santa by posting a photo, message or video on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube with #SantaProject.

Belief Enriches Cognitive and Emotional Development

Prior to launching The Santa Project, Macy’s conducted surveys and consulted with child psychology experts to gain an understanding of the value of believing in Santa Claus.

The positive takeaway of the research: Belief in Santa plays an important role in a child’s cognitive and emotional development, and the benefits gained during the early years of life extend into adulthood, positively impacting family dynamics and problem-solving strategies.

According to acclaimed psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley, “The kind of thinking involved in imagining how nine reindeer could fly through the sky carrying a heavy sleigh may well be the same kind of thinking required for imagining a solution to global warming or a way to cure a disease. This kind of thinking—engaging the border between what is possible and what is impossible —is at the root of all scientific discoveries and inventions, from airplanes to the Internet.”

The Santa Project title

Igniting and Strengthening Family Traditions

With The Santa Project, Macy’s also stands to strengthen family traditions. Participating in activities that bring the belief in Santa to life fosters heartwarming family interactions and behaviors that tend to continue on from year to year, through the generations. Hanging up stockings along the mantel, leaving out cookies on Christmas Eve and attempting to solve the mystery of how Santa covers the globe in a single night are rituals that knit past and present together and benefit the whole family. Professor Woolley says that “engaging with cultural myths allows adults to vividly recall their own childhood sense of wonder and to create fun opportunities for their loved ones.” As a result, children grow emotionally and cognitively, and parents get to spend a bit of their own time imagining the impossible.

Keeping the Magic of the Holidays Alive

Macy’s has always believed in Santa and has shaped a website that is rooted in that belief to address mysteries surrounding Santa and questions about who he is, where he lives and the size of his sleigh. The most vital question the website answers—whether Santa Claus really exists—lies at the very core of The Santa Project. Here’s the inspirational answer:

“Santa is as real as the goodness and generosity he brings into the world. He’s as real as the family traditions he creates, and the love and warmth he brings into the lives of believers everywhere. If you believe in Santa, he’s real.”

According to a recent Ipsos survey, two out of three people with kids in the home (66%) think it is important to believe in Santa, but 44% of U.S. adults think that belief is decreasing.

Macy’s encourages you to flood the internet with expressions of belief in Santa and the Christmas spirit. By sharing a belief-oriented response on social media using #SantaProject, we can all play a role in keeping the magic of the holidays alive.

Santa at the Macy's Parade

Join The Santa Project

Here’s how to get involved:

1. Create a response that will help fill the Internet with belief, in the form of a short message, photo or video on why you believe in Santa and the spirit of the holiday season (filmed via smartphone, held sideways in landscape format)

2. Post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube with #SantaProject

3. Encourage your family and friends to join the movement and spread the spirit of belief

A selection of the responses will be featured in a Macy’s television commercial this month. Visitors to macys.com/believe can view a counter that keeps track of expressions of belief being spread throughout the holiday season, including an updated list of top 10 states in the country that are showing the most belief via social media, letters to Santa, visits to Santa at Macy’s Santaland and visits to macys.com/believe. A short film features children as they discuss what it means to believe in Santa.

Charming Gifts that Express Belief 

Macy’s Holiday Gift Guide contains Yes, Virginia gifts that reflect Macy’s longstanding belief in Santa and a story relating to belief in the jolly fellow. These gifts are based on the real-life tale of Virginia O’Hanlon, an eight-year-old Manhattan girl who in 1897 wrote to The Sun, a prominent New York newspaper, to ask if Santa Claus really exists. She received the now famous “Yes, Virginia” letter back from the editor—his response became the most reprinted editorial ever to have appeared in an English-language newspaper. In 2009, Macy’s developed “Yes, Virginia,” an animated television special based on the story and, in 2012, created “Yes, Virginia the Musical,” a theatrical show spin-off offered to school groups for their staging.

For more great Macy’s holiday gift ideas, check out this blog post.

About the Author

Meet Keri Hanson

Wine. Food. Travel. Repeat.