Who is Santa Claus?
It wasn't until 1809 that Americans had
an actual description and drawing
of St. Nicholas.
For centuries, St. Nicholas has been remembered by Christians for his generosity toward children and the poor. The real St. Nicholas lived in Turkey, where he served as bishop in the town of Myra, during the fourth century. According to Dutch legend, Sinter Klaas (St. Nicholas) brought gifts at Christmastime, either through an open window or down a chimney. This legend is the basis of the Santa Claus we know and love today.
Prior to the 16th century, gifts were exchanged during the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6. After that time, German Protestants began celebrating Christkindl on December 25, a feast day for the Christ Child. Soon the two days merged into one, although, today many people in Europe continue to celebrate both days. As early as 1773, the name "St. A Claus" appeared in print.But Americans did not have a detailed description of St. Nicholas until Washington Irving included a drawing of him in the 1809 publication A History of New York. Then, in 1823, Clement Clarke Moore wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (or A Visit from St. Nicholas). It was Moore's account that characterized Santa as a jolly old man who rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and slides down chimneys to deliver gifts.
Who's Tracking Santa Claus?
"Deter. Detect. Defend." This motto of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, applies to the Canadian and American agency's responsibility to defend the airspace of Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States. However, each December 24, NORAD is also involved in tracking Santa Claus's sleigh ride across the globe.
Using data obtained from a worldwide network of radar and satellites in space, NORAD staff and more than 360 volunteers begin reporting on Santa's progress at 5:00 a.m. MST. Real-time updates via e-mail, the Internet, and telecasts are transferred into streaming audio and video updates and then translated into French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and English.
Which Cities are Easiest for Santa to Visit?
Santa loves to travel to the places
with the most snow!
Those with snow, of course! According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the average snowfall each December in the following locations is more than two feet:
- Valdez, Alaska
- Yakutat, Alaska
- Blue Canyon, California
- Marquette, Michigan
- Muskegon, Michigan
- Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan
- Mount Washington, New Hampshire
- Syracuse, New York
Does Santa Really Exist?
Yes, Santa Claus really does exist -- and he lives in Rovaniemi, Finland! At Santa's Village, you can visit Santa in his workshop and watch his trusty elves building toys and decorating for the holidays. You can also stop by one of the gift shops and pick up Santa's favorite Finnish candies or a toy from Santa's workshop.
In keeping with Santa's North Pole address, Santa's Village is located in the Finnish Lapland on the Arctic Circle. The Lapland is a region that includes northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It is north of the Arctic Circle, an imaginary line on the surface of the earth where the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice.
What are Santa's Favorite Reads?
- Olive, the Other Reindeer, J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
- Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey, Robert Byrd
- The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
- Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack
- "The Gift of the Magi," O. Henry
- The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
- The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Jan Brett
One of Santa's favorite reads is Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
What are Santa's Aliases?
Christmas gifts are bestowed by different gift givers in
various countries. These include Père Noël in France, St. Nicholas or Sinter
Klaas in Holland, Father Christmas in England, the Three Kings in parts of Latin
America and Spain, and Santa Claus in the United States. In Germany, children are visited by Christkind, an angelic
messenger of Jesus.
Santa Claus may visit American children, but in Syria, children receive
Christmas gifts from the smallest camel of one of the Three Wise Men.
Babouschka, a grandmotherly figure, brings presents in Russia, while in Sweden, Jultomten, a gnome who rides a sleigh, does the honors. Syrian children receive gifts from a camel of one of the Three Wise Men, reportedly the smallest one in the caravan. And in Italy, a kindly old witch named La Befana leaves gifts for children.
Can you Name any Reindeer Facts?
- Reindeer are one of several subspecies of caribou found around the world.
- Reindeer are herbivores, which means they eat vegetation. In the summer, they eat leaves and herbs. In the winter, they eat lichen and moss.
- Reindeer generally don't run very fast. In fact, a white-tailed deer could outrun a reindeer.
- Reindeer use their antlers like a shovel to break through
the crust of snow to reach the vegetation underneath.
Reindeer are healthy herbivores. They feast only on leaves, herbs,
lichen, and moss.
- Reindeer are various colors, including white, dark gray, and brown. Males can have light-colored manes, necks, and shoulders.
- The only female deer to grow antlers are reindeer. Each summer, both males and females grow their wonderful racks, but males usually shed theirs in late November to mid-December. Females keep their antlers until spring. Because all of Santa's reindeer are depicted with antlers, one might conclude that every one of them, including Rudolph, is female.
After testing your Santa trivia knowledge, you should know all there is to know about Santa Claus and his reindeer. Find out how much you know (or think you know) about Christmas trees. Continue to the next page to test your Christmas tree trivia knowledge in the areas of world records, types of Christmas trees, and more.