The holiday season and Christmas are once again almost upon us. Christmastime can be busy, and filled with an abundance of things; work that needs to be finished by year end, holiday shopping or taking time off for that perfect winter vacation. As you are out and about you will find many businesses are filled with tinsel, bows and other decorations. And everywhere you look you will find visions of a certain holly, jolly, man with his white hair and beard dressed in his iconic red suit. Santa Claus is an important part of the Christmas season. Santa brings a smile to the faces of the young and the young at heart. So let’s grab a warm winter beverage, turn on your favorite Christmas songs and take a minute to think about Santa.
How Many Names Does He Have?
In our global community it is good to think about how others around the world share this holiday. How is it different? And what things do we share? Around the world Santa Claus has over 100 different names and varied traditions that go along with each moniker. In the United States, Santa Claus is usually depicted as a heavy set man with white hair and beard, wearing a red suit with white fur collar and cuffs, and black leather belt and boots, carrying a bag full of gifts on his sleigh for children. In the United Kingdom, the Traditional appearance of their Father Christmas is of a white haired and bearded man in a hooded green cloak with a wreath of holly or ivy on his head. Father Christmas traditionally trades out reindeer for horses. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas wears a tall, red bishop’s hat and a jeweled staff and is accompanied by Grumpus who rattles chains at the naughty children. In France, he is known as Père Noël and he wears a long red robe. French children leave their shoes by the fireplace and Père Noël fills them with candies and small toys while the family is out for Christmas Eve mass. In China he is known as Shengden Laoren which means the Old Man of Christmas. Shengden Laoren has come to resemble the American Santa with a little extra style. This version of Santa plays a saxophone. That jolly embodiment of Christmas cheer and the spirit of giving sure has a lot of different names, traditions, and costume changes to make as he flies or rides his way round the world. It is definitely a lot to keep track of. Speaking of tracking…
Which Way Did He Go?
When it’s time to put out the milk and cookies, you can tune-in to the local news broadcast or hop on the official website and track Santa’s movements across the US as he takes to the night sky and makes his rounds with gifts. Growing up, it was always a part of my parents plan to get us children in the bed at a reasonable hour because (of course) Santa won’t make his stop if children don’t go to bed. We were always so fascinated by watching Santa’s journey around the world. As Santa got closer and closer to our state, we would run off to bed so Santa wouldn’t pass our house by.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa’s route since the 1950s as part of its public outreach program. NORAD began by hosting a toll free number that children (with parent’s permission of course) could call and find out the location of Santa at any time on Christmas Eve. The organization began hosting the Santa Tracker website in 1997, and uses radar and other technology to track Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas deliveries. Annually, NORAD runs the Santa Tracking website beginning December 1st, with the actual tracking simulation starting on December 23rd. During the month of December the site offers a variety of family friendly activities such as an arcade where each day, different Christmas themed games become available for play, a christmas music player, a library where you can read about worldwide Christmas traditions, and of course you can learn more about what NORAD does year round and how this organization has taken on the task of watching the skies for Santa.
I hope you have enjoyed a look at a few fun bits of information on Santa and all of his alter ego around the world. For more fun with Santa around the world, check out these great sites, and have a very Merry Christmas!
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