That's part of the magic for me, especially in a culture where we've become so commercialized and hooked into manufactured icons. Santa is much more organic, integral, connected to the past, and therefore connected to the future. Many television commercials, comic strips and other media depict this as a sort of humorous business, with Santa's elves acting as a sometimes mischievously disgruntled workforce, cracking jokes and pulling pranks on their boss. President Reagan steps in, fires all of Santa's helpers, and replaces them with out-of-work air traffic controllers an obvious reference to the air traffic controllers' strike , resulting in a riot before Santa vindictively rehires them in humiliating new positions such as his reindeer.
Claus were running a sweatshop 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, Bishkek , a Santa Claus Festival was held on 30 December , with government officials attending.
The events are seen as moves to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan. On 9 September where a total of 12, people dressed up as Santa or Santa's helper which previously brought down the record of 3,, which was set during the Santa Dash event in Liverpool City Centre in 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 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 Jan Steen 's painting, The Feast of Saint Nicholas , 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. In the United States and Canada, children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies ; in Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given sherry or beer, and mince pies instead. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it is common for children to leave him rice porridge with cinnamon sugar instead.
In Ireland it is popular to give him Guinness or milk, along with Christmas pudding or mince pies. In Hungary, St. 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.
New Zealand, British, Australian, Irish, Canadian, and American children also leave a carrot for Santa's reindeer, and are told that if they are not good all year round that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings, although the actual practice of giving coal is now considered archaic. Children following the Dutch custom for sinterklaas will "put out their shoe" 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 marzipan figurine. 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.
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.
The modern image of Santa Claus first appeared in a Civil War illustration, and it wasn't the last time St. Nick was deployed in wartime. A second illustration features Santa in his sleigh, then going down a chimney, all in the periphery. At the center, divided into separate circles.
Ho ho ho is the way that many languages write out how Santa Claus laughs. Merry Christmas! The laughter of Santa Claus has long been an important attribute by which the character is identified, but it also does not appear in many non- English -speaking countries. The traditional Christmas poem A Visit from St.
Nicholas relates that Santa has:.
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. There is also a city named North Pole in Alaska where a tourist attraction known as the "Santa Claus House" has been established.
Each Nordic country claims Santa's residence to be within their territory. In Denmark, he is said to live in Greenland near Uummannaq. In Sweden, the town of Mora has a theme park named Tomteland. The national postal terminal in Tomteboda in Stockholm receives children's letters for Santa.
Santa Claus appears in the weeks before Christmas in department stores or shopping malls, or at parties. The practice of this has been credited [ dubious — discuss ] to James Edgar , as he started doing this in in his Brockton, Massachusetts department store. 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 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 Macy's store in New York City—he arrives at the store by sleigh in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the last float, and his court takes over a large portion of one floor in the store.
Essayist David Sedaris is known for the satirical SantaLand Diaries he kept while working as an elf in the Macy's display, which were turned into a famous radio segment and later published. In Canada, malls operated by Oxford Properties established a process by which autistic children could visit Santa Claus at the mall without having to contend with crowds. In , the Southcentre Mall in Calgary was the first mall to offer this service. In the United Kingdom , discount store Poundland changes the voice of its self-service checkouts to that of Santa Claus throughout the Christmas retail period.
There are schools offering instruction on how to act as Santa Claus. It blossomed into a second career for him, and after appearing in parades and malls,  he appeared on the cover of the American monthly Boston Magazine as Santa. Meath was a board member of the international organization called Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas.
Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a wishlist of toys and assertions of good behavior. Some social scientists 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. Many postal services allow children to send letters to Santa Claus. These letters may be answered by postal workers or outside volunteers.
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 structure of a letter, salutations, and the use of an address and postcode. The USPS Santa letter answering effort started in out of the historic James Farley Post Office  in New York, and since 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.
Other interesting Santa letter processing information, according to the UPU's study and survey of national postal operations, are: . Canada Post has a special postal code for letters to Santa Claus, and since over 13, Canadian postal workers have volunteered to write responses. 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. From to , the program replied to approximately "one million letters or more a year, and in total answered more than 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.
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 , the Brazilian National Post Service, " Correios " formed partnerships with public schools and social institutions to encourage children to write letters and make use of postcodes and stamps. In , the Brazilian National Post Service, " Correios " answered almost two million children's letters, and spread some seasonal cheer by donating , Christmas gifts to some of Brazil's neediest citizens.
He receives over , letters every year from over different countries with Togo being the most recent country added to the list. The post office welcomes , visitors a year, with 70, 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 expatriate 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,  Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi , Finland, and the People's Republic of China Postal System's Beijing International Post Office. The "Santa Letter" market generally relies on the internet as a medium for ordering such letters rather than retail stores. A number of websites created by various organizations track Santa Claus each year.
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. In the past, many local television stations in the United States and Canada likewise claimed they "tracked Santa Claus" in their own metropolitan areas through the stations' meteorologists.
Many other websites became available year-round, 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. Some websites, such as Santa's page on Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces , however have used or still use " bots " to compose and send email replies, with occasional unfortunate results.