Is a gender-neutral Santa coming to town?

For centuries, Santa Claus has traditionally been a jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit who has a craving for milk and cookies.

However, a new survey from GraphicSprings, a logo creation company, has sparked a new debate over whether Santa should be a man, a woman or gender neutral.

The company got the input of 400 people from America and the United Kingdom about ways to modernize St. Nicholas in October and November. They then used the top suggestions to survey 4,000 people on how they would envision a 2018 version of the legendary character.

The results showed that roughly 19 percent of U.S. people believe Santa should be identified as neither male nor female. More than 10 percent said Santa should identify as a woman, which means about 70 percent of people still believe Father Christmas should be a male.

The survey also touched on what people think a modern day Santa should look like.

Traditionally, the character is represented as a bearded old man with his iconic white and red suit, black belt, matching boots and a reindeer-drawn sleigh.

However, it seems some people think modern Santa should be rocking some skinny jeans, sunglasses, trainers and instead of riding in a sled powered by beloved Rudolph and his peers, he might be cruising from town to town in a flying car.

20 percent of people responded that he should have tattoos and 18 percent said his iconic red-and-white suit should be replaced with skinny jeans, while 22 percent said his sleigh needs to be exchanged for a flying car. 21 percent of respondents said he needs to go on a diet.

As well as the debate over Santa’s gender, there has also been talk about the sex of his faithful reindeers. Wildlife experts at Texas A&M University weighed in on the conversation.

“Santa’s reindeers were really females, most likely,” said Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinary medicine professor specializing in deer who cites the depictions of Santa’s helpers with antlers as the primary evidence.

Reindeer grow antlers regardless of gender, and most bulls typically shed their fuzzy protrusions before Christmas.

However, Greg Finstad, who manages the Reindeer Research Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said Santa’s sleigh helpers might also be castrated males, also known as steers.

Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas who was a Christian bishop born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280.

St. Nicholas provided for the poor and sick. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving ways traveled. Over the years, stories of his miracle work for the poor spread to areas all of the world, which is how St. Nicholas transformed into the iconic character Santa Claus.

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