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Around the world with the real Santa Claus

Santa Claus lives in Greenland. This is very certain and well-known. That’s, in any case, our opinion. Unfortunately, there are different views about the subject.

Santa Claus lives in Greenland. This is very certain and well-known. That’s, in any case, our opinion. Unfortunately, there are people in some countries who have a different perception of the truth. Either through wrong information or simply theft of identity. Maybe you are from a country where people think differently. We do not want to offend anyone. That’s why you can read about some of the more alternative – and volatile – explanations here.

We’d like to look at things in an objective manner. Yes, there are many legends about Santa Claus. About where he comes from, where he lives (doesn’t have to be the same, obviously), where he works, who he is working with. And, of course, the entire question about how he can get so far in one single day.

Who is Santa Claus anyway?

Some will perhaps call Santa Claus a glitter-addict, if we list the things he’s wearing: A red costume with an edge of white fur, shiny black boots and a black belt with a golden clamp, a big white beard and sometimes black, round glasses. It’s fancy and we all love wonderfully curvy Santa Claus in his fine clothes.

Santa Claus lives in his cozy house up north in Greenland. If you have been a good child, you’re going to earn yourself some gifts for Christmas – more precisely the evening of the 24th or the morning of the 25th December, depending on where you live.

Read more about Christmas traditions in Greenland.

 

Santa Claus lives in Uummannaq in Greenland

A very popular Danish christmassy TV-series ”Elves in Greenland” established in 1989, what everyone should always have known: Santa Claus lives in Greenland. More precisely in “Spragle” Bay close to Uummannaq. The lucky ones who get to visit Uummannaq can still visit his fine house.

Santa Claus’ workshop is located on the Ice Sheet. He also owns a huge warehouse at the North Pole, from where it is easy to get around in all directions. The world’s biggest postbox naturally is Santa Claus’ and it is obviously located in Greenland, in Ilulissat. Ten thousands of children send letters to Santa Claus in Greenland each year. His helpers, the elves, are very busy answering them all.

When the distribution of gifts is over and done with, Santa Claus has one last  – and very important – duty on December 24th. Elves aren’t visible to humans, but they’re very practical. They get Air Greenland to stand by with a helicopter, when Santa Claus arrives at Nuuk Airport. He gets on the chopper with the very last presents and flies to Sana, Queen Ingrid’s Hospital in the middle of Nuuk, where he gives away presents to those children who cannot be at home on Christmas Eve.

 

How Santa Claus is running his workshop

All year long, Santa Claus is busy in his workshop together with his wife and his many elves. They saw, cast, weld and mount, so that good children all over the world can get their share of gifts at Christmas time. In order to get it all done, his nine reindeer help him. They are so fast that they beat every record when they during one night visit all children all over the world.

When the children’s wish lists have arrived, a whole lot of logistic planning takes place. Those many lists get converted into aggregated lists. On their basis, the elves check whether demand is equal to inventory. There is so much running forth and back between the Ice Sheet and the North Pole.

When the actual distribution of gifts is about to start, the reindeer Danser, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitz and, of course, Rudolph stand by at the dateline. From here, they rush westwards to be sure that all presents are delivered by dusk.

They zigzag at the speed of light from south to north. They move a little bit to the west each time they get back to the warehouse at the North Pole, where the sled gets filled up again quickly. Being Santa Claus is not a piece of cake!

 

Santa Claus is a man with many identities

Santa Claus has many names:

  Juulimaaq (Greenland)

  Julemanden (Denmark)

  Santa Claus (USA)

  Father Christmas (England)

  Jultomten (Sweden)

  Julenissen (Norway)

  Weihnachtsmann (Germany)

  Sankt Nicolaus (The Netherlands and Belgium)

  Babbo Natale (Italy)

 

Let’s take a look at some of the christmas traditions around the world.

Unlucky neighbor turned Nikolaus into Santa Claus in Turkey

The legend about Santa Claus comes from generous Sankt Nikolaus, a Byzantine bishop in Myra in today’s Turkey. Nikolaus had a very unlucky neighbor. Everything went wrong for him. Things went so wrong, that he had to consider selling his daughters as slaves.

In order to avoid the poor girls ending up as prostitutes, Nikolaus sneaked over to the neighbor’s house and secretly threw bags of gold over to the man and his girls. Now, they could afford to have the girls getting married with the gold as a dowry.

Based on this story and others that describe his generosity and healing powers, Sankt Nikolaus got “sainted” and became known as the protector of children and seamen.

 

Behave! If you want Santa Claus to visit you in Germany

During 15th century, the Germans adapted Sankt Nikolaus together with Christkind. Sankt Nikolaus and Christkind pretty much had the same role. Sankt Nikolaus gave away sweets and gifts and got company from Knecht Ruprecht. Naughty children got to know Knecht Ruprecht’s birch, while good ones got praised by Sankt Nikolaus. People knew very well who they wanted to get visited by.

 

Put your wooden shoes by the chimney for Santa Claus on December 5th, if you live in the Netherlands

Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Sankt Nikolaus, comes all the way sailing from Spain to The Netherlands in the night between the 5th and 6th December. Children put their wooden shoes next to the chimney and hope to get them filled by Sinterklaas.

Sankt Nikolaus has like Christkind in Germany company of Zwarte Piet. But, fortunately, he isn’t quite as evil as Knecht Ruprecht in Germany.

Coca Cola and the Americans gave Santa Claus his red clothes

Santa Claus, which is an anglification of Sankt Nikolaus, is the Americans’ version. through illustrations and stories, they created the current picture of Santa Claus in his fine, red clothes.

Santa Claus also had fine red clothes before 1931, but it was actually an ad for Coca Cola that year, that has manifested the idea of Santa Claus’ look. We are grateful about it.

It was also an American, who wrote, misleadingly, that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. It should be basic knowledge, that Santa Claus lives in Greenland. The Americans are very good at many things, but geography has never been their biggest strength.

 

Merry Christmas to Finland – even if Santa Claus doesn’t live with you

In some mysterious way, some people got the perception of Santa Claus coming from Finland. We, who know for certain that Santa Claus lives in Greenland, do obviously disagree.

The Finnish Santa Claus is called Joulupukki, which means ”Christmas goat”. In short, the story about the Finnish Santa Claus / Christmas Goat comes from a whole other Finnish tradition. We’ll leave that one for another time.

Despite the Finnish name of Santa Claus comes from narrations about a Christmas Goat, the current Santa Claus looks like the British ”Father Christmas” and the American ”Santa Claus”. The Finnish version was, in the old days, wearing blue, green, purple and grey clothes, sometimes even black.

You probably realize, that there are many legends. You can obviously not trust everything you read. But one thing is for sure: Santa Claus exisits.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

 

Christmassy feelings with Greenlandic Christmas songs

After all these stories about Santa Claus, you might feel like listening to some “real” Christmas music. Check these three Greenlandic Christmas songs out on YouTube:

Guuterput

Aarlorfingissavat

Juullimi Pilluaritsi

 

Merry Christmas!

"..Greenland for me was staggering in its beauty, size, remoteness and rawness.."

Ursula Mattson

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