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Santa Claus, also known as , , and simply " Santa", is a mythical figure with , historical and origins who, in many , is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on 24 December, Christmas. However, in some European countries children receive their presents on , 6 December. About Santa Claus, Sinterklaas The modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch figure of , which, in turn, has part of its basis in tales concerning the historical figure of Christian bishop and gift-giver . During the of , this figure may have absorbed elements of the god , who was associated with the Germanic pagan midwinter event of and led the , a ghostly procession through the sky. Over time, traits of this character and the British folklore character merged to form the modern Santa Claus known today.

Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white- man—sometimes with —wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. Images of him rarely have a beard with no . This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem "" and of caricaturist and political cartoonist . Coke denies claims it bottled familiar Santa image, Jim Auchmutey, , 10 December 2007. This image has been maintained and reinforced through .

Since the 20th century, in an idea popularized by the 1934 song "", Santa Claus has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior ("naughty" or "nice") and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the and the flying who pull his sleigh.B. K. Swartz, Jr.; THE ORIGIN OF AMERICAN CHRISTMAS MYTH AND CUSTOMS; Retrieved 22 December 2007Jeff Westover; The Legendary Role of Reindeer in Christmas; Retrieved 22 December 2007 He is commonly portrayed as living on the and often saying "".

Predecessor figures

Saint Nicholas
was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of (now Demre) in , a province of the , now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.

The remains of Saint Nicholas are in Italy. In 1087, the Italian city of , mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Saint. The reliquary of St. Nicholas was conquered by Italian sailors and his were taken to Bari St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Encyclopedia Saint Nicholas Encyclopædia Britannica where they are kept to this day. A was constructed the same year to store the loot and the area became a site for the devout. Sailors from Bari collected just half of Nicholas' skeleton, leaving all the minor fragments in the grave. These were collected by Venetian sailors during the first crusade and taken to , where a church to St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the . This tradition was confirmed in two important scientific investigations of the relics in and , which revealed that the relics in the two Italian cities belong to the same skeleton. Saint Nicholas was later claimed as a of many diverse groups, from , sailors, and children to . He is also the patron saint of both and Moscow.

During the Middle Ages, often on the evening before his name day of 6 December, children were bestowed gifts in his honour. This date was earlier than the original day of gifts for the children, which moved in the course of the Reformation and its opposition to the veneration of saints in many countries on the 24 and 25 December. So Saint Nicholas changed to Santa Claus. The custom of gifting of children at Christmas has been propagated by as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on St. Nicholas, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints. first suggested the as the bringer of gifts. But Nicholas remained popular as gifts bearer for the people.Rudolf Öller: 2004 Martin Luthers Christkind; in: Welt der Naturwissenschaften, Ausgabe Dezember 2004 Wie Abraham Lincoln den Weihnachtsmann erfand – manager magazin: Wie Coca-Cola den Weihnachtsmann nicht erfand

Germanic paganism, Odin, and Christianization
Prior to Christianization, the (including the English; Old English geola or guili) celebrated a midwinter event called .Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Mythology and Legend, page 187. Cassell. With the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas. (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, pages 379–380. . & Orchard (1997:1987). During this period, supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the , a ghostly procession through the sky. The leader of the wild hunt is frequently attested as the god and he bears the Old Norse names Jólnir, meaning "yule figure" and the name Langbarðr, meaning "long-beard" (see ).For the wild hunt, Simek (2010:372–373). For Jólnir, see Simek (2010:180) and Orchard (1997:189). For Langbarðr, see Simek (2010:186).

The god Odin's role during the Yuletide period has been theorized as having influenced concepts of St. Nicholas in a variety of facets, including his long white beard and his gray horse for nightly rides (see Odin's horse ), which was traded for reindeer in North America.For example, see McKnight, George Harley (1917). St. Nicholas: His Legend and His Role in the Christmas Celebration and Other Popular Customs, pages 24–26, 138–139. G. P. Putman's sons. & Springwood, Charles Fruehling (2009). "If Santa Wuz Black: The Domestication of a White Myth", pages 243–244. As published in Studies in Symbolic Interaction: Volume 33 of Studies in Symbolic Interactions Series. Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN 9781848557840 copy Margaret Baker comments that "The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed , visiting his people with gifts. Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild became a leading player on the Christmas stage."Baker, Margaret (2007 1962). Discovering Christmas Custuoms and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites Throughout the World, page 62. Osprey Publishing.

Dutch folklore
In the Netherlands and Belgium, next to , the character of Santa Claus is also known. He is known as de Kerstman in Dutch ("the Christmas man") and Père Noël ("Father Christmas") in French. But for children in the Netherlands Sinterklaas is the predominant gift-giver in December (36% of the population only give presents on Sinterklaas day), Christmas is used by another fifth of the Dutch population to give presents. (21% give presents on Christmas only). Some 26% of the Dutch population give presents on both days. Netherlands budget institute table showing money spent by households categorised into those that give gifts only on Sint (36%), only on Christmas day (21%), on both days (26%) In Belgium, presents are given to children only, but to almost all of them, on Sinterklaas day. On Christmas Day, everybody receives presents, but often without Santa Claus's help.

Scandinavian folklore
In the 1840s, a being in Nordic folklore called "" or "Nisse" started to deliver the Christmas presents in Denmark. The Tomte was portrayed as a short, bearded man dressed in gray clothes and a red hat. This new version of the age-old folkloric creature was inspired by the Santa Claus traditions that were now spreading to Scandinavia. By the end of the 19th century this tradition had also spread to Norway and Sweden, replacing the . The same thing happened in Finland, but there the more human figure retained the Yule Goat name. But even though the tradition of the Yule Goat as a bringer of presents is now all but extinct, a straw goat is still a common Christmas decoration in all of Scandinavia. Iceland has 13 that originate from folklore rather than Christianity and start arriving from the mountains into towns 13 days before 24 December.

Father Christmas
Father Christmas dates back as far as 16th century in during the reign of , when he was pictured as a large man in green or scarlet robes lined with fur.William J. Federer (2002). "There Really Is a Santa Claus: The History of St. Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions" p. 39. Amerisearch, Inc., 2002 He typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food and wine and revelry. As England no longer kept the of Saint Nicholas on 6 December, the Father Christmas celebration was moved to 25 December to coincide with Christmas Day. The Victorian revival of Christmas included Father Christmas as the emblem of 'good cheer'. His physical appearance was variable, with one famous image being illustration of the "Ghost of Christmas Present" in 's festive classic (1843), as a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur who takes Scrooge through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace.Jacqueline Simpson, Steve Roud (2000) "English Folklore". Oxford University Press, 2000

Father Christmas is now widely seen as synonymous with the Santa Claus figure.


Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from church history and folklore, notably and , merged with the English character to create the character known to Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as Santa Claus.

In the and later British colonies of North America, and later in the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further. For example, in 's History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" (a name first used in the American press in 1773)"Last Monday, the anniversary of St. Nicholas, otherwise called Santa Claus, was celebrated at Protestant Hall, at Mr. Waldron's; where a great number of sons of the ancient saint celebrated the day with great joy and festivity." Rivington's Gazette (New York City), 23 December 1773. but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving's book was a of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention.

19th century
In 1821, the book A New-year's present, to the little ones from five to twelve was published in New York. It contained Old Santeclaus, an anonymous poem describing an old man on a reindeer sleigh, bringing presents to children. Some modern ideas of Santa Claus seemingly became after the anonymous publication of the poem "" (better known today as "The Night Before Christmas") in the , Sentinel on 23 December 1823; the poem was later attributed to . Many of his modern attributes are established in this poem, such as riding in a that lands on the roof, entering through the chimney, and having a bag full of toys. St. Nick is described as being "chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf" with "a little round belly", that "shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly", in spite of which the "miniature sleigh" and "tiny reindeer" still indicate that he is physically diminutive. The were also named: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem (Dunder and Blixem came from the old Dutch words for thunder and lightning, which were later changed to the more German sounding Donner and Blitzen). Snopes The Donner Party's over; on reindeer name changes.

As the years passed, Santa Claus evolved in popular culture into a large, heavyset person. One of the first artists to define Santa Claus's modern image was , an American of the 19th century. In 1863, a picture of Santa illustrated by Nast appeared in .

The story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole may also have been a Nast creation. His Christmas image in the Harper's issue dated 29 December 1866 was a collage of engravings titled Santa Claus and His Works, which included the caption "Santa Claussville, N.P."Thomas Nast, Santa Claus and His Works, 1866. The phrase "Santa Claussville, N.P." is on the curved border to the right of center, above the large word "Claus". A color collection of Nast's pictures, published in 1869, had a poem also titled "Santa Claus and His Works" by George P. Webster, who wrote that Santa Claus's home was "near the North Pole, in the ice and snow".Jeremy Seal, Nicholas: The Epic Journey From Saint to Santa Claus, Bloomsbury, 2005, p. 199–200. ISBN 978-1-58234-419-5. The tale had become well known by the 1870s. A boy from writing to the children's magazine The Nursery in late 1874 said, "If we did not live so very far from the North Pole, I should ask Santa Claus to bring me a donkey."Ralph Armstrong, age 6, " A Letter From Colorado", The Nursery, 1875, vol. 18, p. 42–43.

The idea of a wife for Santa Claus may have been the creation of American authors, beginning in the mid-19th century. In 1889, the poet popularized in the poem "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride".

"Is There a Santa Claus?" was the title of an editorial appearing in the 21 September 1897 edition of . The editorial, which included the famous reply "", has become an indelible part of popular Christmas lore in the United States and Canada.

20th century
's , a 1902 , further popularized Santa Claus. Much of Santa Claus's mythos was not set in stone at the time, leaving Baum to give his "Neclaus" (Necile's Little One) a wide variety of immortal support, a home in the Laughing Valley of Hohaho, and ten reindeer—who could not fly, but leapt in enormous, flight-like bounds. Claus's was earned, much like his title ("Santa"), decided by a vote of those naturally immortal. This work also established Claus's motives: a happy childhood among immortals. When Ak, Master Woodsman of the World, exposes him to the misery and poverty of children in the outside world, Santa strives to find a way to bring joy into the lives of all children, and eventually invents toys as a principal means.

Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through 's depiction of him for 's Christmas advertising in the 1930s. The popularity of the image spawned that Santa Claus was invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the Coca-Cola brand. The Claus That Refreshes . Retrieved 7 January 2008. Historically, Coca-Cola was not the first company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising— had already used a red and white Santa to sell in 1915 and then in advertisements for its in 1923.The White Rock Collectors Association, " Did White Rock or The Coca-Cola Company create the modern Santa Claus Advertisement?,", 2001 Retrieved 19 January 2007.White Rock Beverages, " Coca-Cola's Santa Claus: Not The Real Thing!,", 18 December 2006.White Rock Beverages, " Coca-Cola's Santa Claus: Not The Real Thing!,", 18 December 2006 . Retrieved 19 January 2007. Earlier still, Santa Claus had appeared dressed in red and white and essentially in his current form on several covers of magazine in the first few years of the 20th century., , .

The image of Santa Claus as a benevolent character became reinforced with its association with charity and philanthropy, particularly by organizations such as the . Volunteers dressed as Santa Claus typically became part of drives to aid needy families at Christmas time.

In 1937, , who played Santa Claus in department stores and parades, established the Charles W. Howard Santa School, the oldest continuously-run such school in the world.

In some images from the early 20th century, Santa was depicted as personally making his toys by hand in a small workshop like a craftsman. Eventually, the idea emerged that he had numerous elves responsible for making the toys, but the toys were still handmade by each individual elf working in the traditional manner.

The 1956 popular song by , "Mrs. Santa Claus", and the 1963 children's book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas, by , helped standardize and establish the character and role of in the popular imagination.

's 1948 novel draws from historical legends to tell the story of Santa and the origins of Christmas. Other modern additions to the "story" of Santa include , the 9th and lead reindeer immortalized in a song, written by a copywriter.

In popular culture
By the end of the 20th century, the reality of mass mechanized production became more fully accepted by the Western public. That shift was reflected in the modern depiction of Santa's residence—now often humorously portrayed as a fully mechanized production and distribution facility, equipped with the latest manufacturing technology, and overseen by the elves with Santa and Mrs. Claus as executives and/or managers.Nissenbaum, chap. 2; Belk, 87–100 An excerpt from a 2004 article, from a supply chain managers' trade magazine, aptly illustrates this depiction:

Santa has been described as a positive male :

Many television commercials, and other media depict this as a sort of humorous business, with Santa's acting as a sometimes mischievously disgruntled workforce, cracking jokes and pulling pranks on their boss. For instance, a story from 15 December 1981 through 24 December 1981 has Santa rejecting the demands of PETCO (Professional Elves Toy-Making and Craft Organization) for higher wages, a hot tub in the locker room, and "short broads,” with the elves then going on strike. steps in, fires all of Santa's helpers, and replaces them with out-of-work (an obvious reference to the ), resulting in a riot before Santa vindictively rehires them in humiliating new positions such as his reindeer. In episode, "", says he "Used to think Santa and Mrs. Claus were running a over there. The original elves were ugly, traveled with Santa to throw bad kids a beatin', and gave the good ones toys."

In Kyrgyzstan, a mountain peak was named after Santa Claus, after a Swedish company had suggested the location be a more efficient starting place for present-delivering journeys all over the world, than Lapland. In the Kyrgyz capital, , a Santa Claus Festival was held on 30 December 2007, with government officials attending. 2008 was officially declared the Year of Santa Claus in the country. The events are seen as moves to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan: Central Asian Country Welcomes Santa Claus To His New Home. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 30 December 2007

The for the largest gathering of Santa Clauses is held by Derry City, Northern Ireland. On 9 September 2007. A total of 12,965 people dressed up as Santa or Santa's helper brought down the previous record of 3,921, which was set during the Santa Dash event in Liverpool City Centre in 2005.guinness world records A gathering of Santas in 2009 in Bucharest, Romania attempted top the world record, but failed with only 3939 Santas.

Traditions and rituals

Chimney tradition
The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney is shared by many European seasonal gift-givers. In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice. In the Italian tradition, the gift-giving witch is perpetually covered with soot from her trips down the chimneys of children's homes. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked. In Dutch artist 's painting, , adults and toddlers are glancing up a chimney with amazement on their faces while other children play with their toys. The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal. Santa's entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of American tradition through the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" where the author described him as an elf.Walsh, Joseph J.. Were They Wise Men Or Kings?: The Book of Christmas Questions. Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. ISBN 0-664-22312-5.

Christmas Eve rituals
In the United States and Canada, children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of ; in Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given or beer, and instead. In Sweden and Norway, children leave rice porridge. In Ireland it is popular to give him or milk, along with or mince pies.

In Hungary, St. Nicolaus (Mikulás) comes on the night of 5 December and the children get their gifts the next morning. They get sweets in a bag if they were good, and a golden colored birch switch if not. On Christmas Eve "Little Jesus" comes and gives gifts for everyone.

In Slovenia, Saint Nicholas (Miklavž) also brings small gifts for good children on the eve of 6 December. Božiček (Christmas Man) brings gifts on the eve of 25 December, and Dedek Mraz (Grandfather Frost) brings gifts in the evening of 31 December to be opened on New Years Day.

New Zealander, British, Australian, Irish, Canadian and American children also leave a carrot for Santa's reindeer, and were traditionally told that if they are not good all year round, that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings, although this practice is now considered archaic. Children following the Dutch custom for sinterklaas will "put out their shoe"—that is, leave hay and a carrot for his horse in a shoe before going to bed—sometimes weeks before the sinterklaas avond. The next morning they will find the hay and carrot replaced by a gift; often, this is a . Naughty children were once told that they would be left a roe (a bundle of sticks) instead of sweets, but this practice has been discontinued.

Other Christmas Eve Santa Claus rituals in the United States include reading or other tale about Santa Claus, watching a Santa or Christmas-related animated program on television (such as the aforementioned Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town and similar specials, such as , among many others), and the singing of Santa Claus songs such as "", "", and "". Last minute rituals for children before going to bed include aligning stockings at the mantelpiece or other place where Santa cannot fail to see them, peeking up the chimney (in homes with a fireplace), glancing out a window and scanning the heavens for Santa's sleigh, and (in homes without a fireplace) unlocking an exterior door so Santa can easily enter the house. Tags on gifts for children are sometimes signed by their parents "From Santa Claus" before the gifts are laid beneath the tree.

Santa Claus's home traditionally includes a residence and a workshop where he creates—often with the aid of elves or other supernatural beings—the gifts he delivers to good children at Christmas. Some stories and legends include a village, inhabited by his helpers, surrounding his home and shop.

In North American tradition (in the United States and Canada), Santa lives on the North Pole, which according to Canada Post lies within Canadian jurisdiction in postal code H0H 0H0 (a reference to "ho ho ho", Santa's notable saying, although postal codes starting with H are usually reserved for the island of Montreal in Québec). On 23 December 2008, , Canada's minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, formally awarded Canadian citizenship status to Santa Claus. " The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete," Kenney said in an official statement. Santa Claus declared a Canadian citizen Toronto Sun, 12 December 2008

There is also a city named in where a tourist attraction known as the "Santa Claus House" has been established. The uses the city's zip code of 99705 as their advertised postal code for Santa Claus. A in North Pole, AK has also claimed to have a "sleigh fly through".

Each claims Santa's residence to be within their territory. Norway claims he lives in . In Denmark, he is said to live in Greenland (near ). In Sweden, the town of has a theme park named . The national postal terminal in in Stockholm receives children's letters for Santa. In Finland, has long been known as Santa's home, and two theme parks, and are located near .

Parades, department stores, and shopping malls
Santa Claus appears in the weeks before Christmas in or shopping malls, or at parties. The practice of this has been credited to , as he started doing this in 1890 in his department store. He is played by an actor, usually helped by other actors (often mall employees) dressed as elves or other creatures of folklore associated with Santa. Santa's function is either to promote the store's image by distributing small gifts to children, or to provide a seasonal experience to children by listening to their wishlist while having them sit on his knee (a practice now under review by some organisations in Britain, and Switzerland). Sometimes a photograph of the child and Santa are taken. Having a Santa set up to take pictures with children is a ritual that dates back at least to 1918.

The area set up for this purpose is festively decorated, usually with a large throne, and is called variously "Santa's Grotto", "Santa's Workshop" or a similar term. In the United States, the most notable of these is the Santa at the flagship store in New York City—he arrives at the store by sleigh in the on the last float, and his court takes over a large portion of one floor in the store. This was popularized by the 1947 film with Santa Claus being called Kris Kringle. The Macy's Santa Claus in New York City is often said to be the real Santa. Essayist is known for the satirical he kept while working as an elf in the Macy's display, which were turned into a famous radio segment and later published.

Quite often the Santa, if and when he is detected to be fake, explains that he is not the real Santa and is helping him at this time of year. Most young children accept this explanation. At family parties, Santa is sometimes impersonated by the male head of the household or other adult male family member.

In Canada, malls operated by established a process by which autistic children could visit Santa Claus at the mall without having to contend with crowds. The malls open early to allow entry only to families with autistic children, who have a private visit with Santa Claus. In 2012, the in Calgary was the first mall to offer this service.

There are schools offering instruction on how to act as Santa Claus. For example, children's television producer studied at the International School of Santa Claus and earned the degree Master of Santa Claus in 2006. It blossomed into a second career for him, and after appearing in parades and malls, he appeared on the cover of the American monthly as Santa. There are associations with members who portray Santa; for example, Mr. Meath is a board member of the international organization called Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas.

Letter writing to Santa
Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a of toys and assertions of good behavior. Some have found that boys and girls write different types of letters. Girls generally write longer but more polite lists and express the nature of Christmas more in their letters than in letters written by boys. Girls also more often request gifts for other people. "Understanding What Christmas Gifts Mean to Children" by Jenniina Halkoaho and Pirjo Laaksonnen, pages 248–255 in "Young Consumers" and their reference to the 1994 article by Otnes, Cele, Kyungseung Kim, and Young Chan Kim. "Yes, Virginia, There is a Gender Difference: Analyzing Children's Requests to Santa Claus." in the Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 28, no. 1 (Summer 1994), pp. 17–29

Many allow children to send letters to Santa Claus. These letters may be answered by postal workers and/or outside volunteers. Writing letters to Santa Claus has the educational benefits of promoting literacy, computer literacy, and e-mail literacy. A letter to Santa is often a child's first experience of correspondence. Written and sent with the help of a parent or teacher, children learn about the .

According to the (UPU)'s 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, the (USPS) has the oldest Santa letter answering effort by a national postal system. The Santa letter answering effort started in 1912 out of the historic in New York, and since 1940 has been called " Operation Santa" to ensure that letters to Santa are adopted by charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and individuals in order to make children's holiday dreams come true from coast to coast. Those seeking a holiday postmark through the , are told to send their letter from Santa or a holiday greeting card by 10 December to: North Pole Holiday Postmark, Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Dr, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998.

In 2006, according to the 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, received the most letters for Santa Claus or "" with 1,220,000 letters received from 126 countries. in 2007 specially recruited someone to answer the enormous volume of mail that was coming from Russia for Santa Claus.

Other interesting Santa letter processing information, according to the 2007 study and survey of national postal operations, are:

  • Countries whose national postal operators answer letters to Santa and other end-of-year holiday figures, and the number of letters received in 2006: Germany (500,000), Australia (117,000), Austria (6,000), Bulgaria (500), Canada (1,060,000), Spain (232,000), United States (no figure, as statistics are not kept centrally), Finland (750,000), France (1,220,000), Ireland (100,000), New Zealand (110,000), Portugal (255,000), Poland (3,000), Slovakia (85,000), Sweden (150,000), Switzerland (17,863), Ukraine (5,019), United Kingdom (750,000).
  • In 2006, received letters from 150 countries (representing 90% of the letters received), from 126 countries, Germany from 80 countries, and Slovakia from 20 countries.
  • In 2007, replied to letters in 26 languages and in 16 languages.
  • Some national postal operators make it possible to send in e-mail messages which are answered by physical mail. All the same, Santa still receives far more letters than e-mail through the national postal operators, proving that children still write letters. National postal operators offering the ability to use an on-line (with or without a return e-mail address) to Santa and obtain a reply include (on-line web request form in English and French), (on-line web request form in French), and (on-line web request form in English). In France, by 6 December 2010, a team of 60 postal elves had sent out reply cards in response to 80,000 e-mail on-line request forms and more than 500,000 physical letters.

has a special for letters to Santa Claus, and since 1982 over 13,000 Canadian postal workers have volunteered to write responses. His address is: Santa Claus, , H0H 0H0 (see also: ). (This postal code, in which zeroes are used for the letter "O" is consistent with the alternating letter-number format of all Canadian postal codes.) Sometimes children's charities answer letters in poor communities, or from children's hospitals, and give them presents they would not otherwise receive. In 2009, 1,000 workers answered 1.1 million letters and 39,500 e-mail on-line request forms from children in 30 different languages, including Braille.

In Britain it was traditional for some to burn the Christmas letters on the fire so that they would be magically transported by the wind to the North Pole. However this has been found to be less efficient than the use of the normal postal service, and this tradition is dying out in modern times, especially with few homes having open fires. According to the Royal Mail website, Santa's address for letters from British children is: Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, besides using the mail, sometimes children wrap their letters to a small helium balloon, releasing them into the air so Santa magically receives them.

In 2010, the Brazilian National Post Service, “” formed partnerships with public schools and social institutions to encourage children to write letters and make use of postcodes and stamps. In 2009, the Brazilian National Post Service, “” answered almost two million children's letters, and spread some seasonal cheer by donating 414,000 Christmas gifts to some of Brazil's neediest citizens.

Through the years, the Finnish Santa Claus ( or "") has received over eight million letters. He receives over 600,000 letters every year from over 198 different countries with Togo being the most recent country added to the list. Children from Great Britain, Poland and Japan are the busiest writers. The Finnish Santa Claus lives in , however the Santa Claus Main Post Office is situated in precisely at the . His address is: Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, , FIN-96930 Arctic Circle. The post office welcomes 300,000 visitors a year, with 70,000 visitors in December alone.

Children can also receive a letter from Santa through a variety of private agencies and organizations, and on occasion public and private cooperative ventures. An example of a public and private cooperative venture is the opportunity for and local children and parents to receive postmarked mail and greeting cards from Santa during December in the Finnish Embassy in Beijing, People's Republic of China, in , Finland, and the Beijing International Post Office. Parents can order a personalized "Santa letter" to be sent to their child, often with a North Pole postmark. The "Santa Letter" market generally relies on the internet as a medium for ordering such letters rather than .

Santa tracking, Santa websites and email to and from Santa
Over the years there have been a number of websites created by various organizations that have purported to track Santa Claus. Some, such as , the Airservices Australia Tracks Santa Project, the Santa Update Project, and the and Tracks Santa Project have endured. Others, such as the 's Tracks Santa Project, the Santa Retro Radar – Project, and the NASA Tracks Santa Project, have fallen by the wayside.

In 1955, a store in , gave children a number to call a "Santa ". The number was mistyped and children called the (CONAD) on Christmas Eve instead. The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first call for Santa and responded by telling children that there were signs on the radar that Santa was indeed heading south from the North Pole. A tradition began which continued under the name NORAD Tracks Santa when in 1958 Canada and the United States jointly created the (NORAD). This tracking can now be done via the Internet and NORAD's website.

In the past, many local television stations in the United States and Canada likewise "tracked Santa Claus" in their own through the stations' . In December 2000, the built upon these local efforts to provide a national Christmas Eve "Santa tracking" effort, called "SantaWatch" in cooperation with , the , and -based new firm Dreamtime Holdings. In the 21st century, most local television stations in the United States and Canada rely upon outside established "Santa tracking" efforts, such as NORAD Tracks Santa.

Many other websites are available year-round that are devoted to Santa Claus and purport to keep tabs on his activities in his workshop. Many of these websites also include email addresses which allow children to send email to Santa Claus. Most of these websites use volunteer living people as "" to answer email sent to Santa. Some websites, such as Santa's page on Microsoft's , however have used or still use "" to compose and send email replies, with occasional unfortunate results.

In addition to providing holiday-themed entertainment, "Santa tracking" websites raise interest in and , serve to educate children in geography. and encourage them to take an interest in science.


Calvinist and Puritan opposition
Santa Claus has partial Christian roots in , particularly in the denominations that practice the of him, in addition to other . In addition, he has also become a secular representation of Christmas. In light of these facts, the character has sometimes been the focus of controversy over the holiday and its meanings. Some Christians, particularly Calvinists and Puritans, disliked the idea of Santa Claus, as well as Christmas in general, believing that the lavish celebrations were not in accordance with their faith. ξ1 Other Christians condemn the materialist focus of contemporary gift giving and see Santa Claus as the symbol of that culture. ξ2

Condemnation of Christmas was prevalent among the 17th-century English and Dutch who banned the holiday as either or . The American colonies established by these groups reflected this view. Tolerance for Christmas increased after the but the Puritan opposition to the holiday persisted in New England for almost two centuries. In the Dutch colony, season celebrations focused on New Year's Day.

Following the of the monarchy and with Puritans out of power in England, the ban on Christmas was satirized in works such as Josiah King's The Examination and Tryal of Old ; Together with his Clearing by the Jury (1686) .

Rev. Paul Nedergaard, a clergyman in , attracted controversy in 1958 when he declared Santa to be a "pagan " after Santa's image was used on fund-raising materials for a Danish welfare organization . One prominent religious group that refuses to celebrate Santa Claus, or Christmas itself, for similar reasons is the . A number of denominations of Christians have varying concerns about Santa Claus, which range from acceptance to denouncement. Santa Claus: The great imposter, Terry Watkins, . To Santa or Not to Santa, Sylvia Cochran, Families Online Magazine.

Some Christians prefer the holiday focus on the actual birth of Jesus, believing that Christmas stemmed from pagan festivals such as the and Germanic that were subsumed within ancient Christianity. An even smaller subset of Christians actually prefer the secularized version of the holiday for the same reasons, believing that to relegate Christ's birth to Christmas is wrong.[24], G.I. Williamson, A Puritan's Mind.

Symbol of commercialism
In his book Nicholas: The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus, writer Jeremy Seal describes how the commercialization of the Santa Claus figure began in the 19th century. "In the 1820s he began to acquire the recognizable trappings: reindeer, , bells," said Seal in an interview. How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus: One Theory, interview with Jeremy Seal at the St. Nicholas Center. "They are simply the actual bearings in the world from which he emerged. At that time, sleighs were how you got about ."

Writing in Mothering, writer Carol Jean-Swanson makes similar points, noting that the original figure of St. Nicholas gave only to those who were needy and that today Santa Claus seems to be more about :

In the Czech Republic, a group of advertising professionals started a website against Santa Claus, a relatively recent phenomenon in that country. Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry, Hilda Hoy, , 13 December 2006. "Czech Christmases are intimate and magical. All that Santa stuff seems to me like cheap show business," said David König of the Creative Copywriters Club, pointing out that it is primarily an American and British tradition. "I'm not against Santa himself. I'm against Santa in my country only." In the Czech tradition, presents are delivered by , which translates as .

In the United Kingdom, was historically depicted wearing a green cloak. As Father Christmas has been increasingly merged into the image of Santa Claus, that has been changed to the more commonly known red suit. Santa goes green!; ; 26 November 2007; Retrieved 22 December 2007 One school in the seaside town of banned the use of a red suit erroneously believing it was only indicative of the Coca-Cola advertising campaign. School spokesman Sarah James said: "The red-suited Santa was created as a marketing tool by Coca-Cola, it is a symbol of commercialism." Parents see red over school's green-suited santa, Olinka Koster, The Daily Mail (UK), 22 November 2007. However, Santa had been portrayed in a red suit in the 19th century by among others.

Controversy about deceiving children
Various psychologists and researchers have wrestled with the ways that parents collude to convince young children of the existence of Santa Claus, and have wondered whether children's abilities to critically weigh real-world evidence may be undermined by their belief in this or other imaginary figures. For example, psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley helped conduct a study that found, to the contrary, that children seemed competent in their use of logic, evidence, and comparative reasoning even though they might conclude that Santa Claus or other fanciful creatures were real:

Woolley posited that it is perhaps "kinship with the adult world" that causes children not to be angry that they were lied to for so long. However, the criticism about this deception is not that it is a simple lie, but a complicated series of very large lies. Santa Claus: Should Parents Perpetuate the Santa Claus Myth?, Austin Cline, Objections include that it is unethical for parents to lie to children without good cause, and that it discourages healthy skepticism in children. With no greater good at the heart of the lie, some have charged that it is more about the parents than it is about the children. For instance, writer Austin Cline posed the question: "Is it not possible that kids would find at least as much pleasure in knowing that parents are responsible for Christmas, not a supernatural stranger?"

Others, however, see no harm in the belief in Santa Claus. Psychologist Tamar Murachver said that because it is a cultural, not parental, lie, it does not undermine parental trust. The New Zealand Skeptics also see no harm in parents telling their children that Santa is real. Spokesperson Vicki Hyde said, "It would be a hard-hearted parent indeed who frowned upon the innocent joys of our children's cultural heritage. We save our bah humbugs for the things that exploit the vulnerable."

Dr. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500 children for a study of the issue and found that not a single child was angry at his or her parents for telling them Santa Claus was real. According to Dr. Condry, "The most common response to finding out the truth was that they felt older and more mature. They now knew something that the younger kids did not".Lawrence Kutner; Parent & Child; ; 21 November 1991; Retrieved 22 December 2007

File:Uummannaq-santa-claus-turf-hut.jpg|A restored traditional Greenlandic on serving the children of Denmark as the 'Santa Claus Castle', to which they can write letters. File:Giantsanta.JPG|Santa Claus House signage in North Pole, Alaska. File:Santa Claus1.JPG|Santa Claus statue in Kerala, India. File:Oldfashioned.jpg|An old-fashioned .

See also

See also

Related figures in folklore



Further reading

External links

    ^ 9783110874372, Walter de Gruyter.
    ^ (2011). 9781551996080, Random House.

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