Meet your Neighbour: Santa Claus - he may be busy, but he still found time to chat!
LONDON, ONT. -- Even though it's his busiest time of year, Santa himself couldn't give up the chance to be a part of Meet your Neighbour!
Known by many names around the world, Santa Claus, is getting ready for Christmas Eve.
"Of course I work all year round, but December 24 is when it all comes together," Santa told me during our brief but informative chat.
He goes by many names around the world; Father Christmas (English), Kris Kringle (American English), Père Noël/Papa Noël, Papa Noel (Spanish), Weihnachtsmann (German), Papai Noel (Portuguese), Ded Moroz (Russian), Noel Baba (Turkish), and of course, Santa Claus.
"It doesn't matter what you call me, so long as you leave me some tasty treats! Ho, ho, ho!"
When asked how old he is, he responded with a smile suggesting he was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, Near Myra in modern-day Turkey.
"Christmas magic doesn’t just help me fly and slide down the chimney. It keeps me looking young and keeps you guessing as to how old I actually am!"
Without a clear answer about his age, we do know is that Christmas shopping began with advertisements in the early 1800's. By the 1840's, advertising grew to separate sections of newspapers for the holiday featuring the jolly man himself.
By then, everyone wanted to visit Santa. To be able to see as many people at once, Santa attended just about every Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1924 to wave to onlookers and usher in the holiday season.
But how does Santa deliver all those gifts around the world in just one night?
"I can't tell you my secrets, but I can tell you that there are different traditions of how gifts are delivered."
For example, Santa told me that in Scandinavia his friend Jultomten the elf has been known to deliver gifts by a sleigh drawn by goats and in Italy, La Befana rides a broomstick down the chimney so she can deliver gifts.
Since he wouldn't tell me how he gets the job done in one night, I focused his reindeer.
"Ah, yes. They are the way I get from place to place so quickly. Not just any reindeer mind you. Magical ones!"
So that's eight, right? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen…Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Oh, and then there's the most famous reindeer of all Rudolph, who by the way came to be in 1939 when copywriter Robert L. May wrote a Christmas themed poem to bring holiday traffic to the Montgomery Ward department store.
So, nine reindeer in total. What's that? Ten you say?
In 1999, a film written by Steve Young (no, not Steve Young my boss & News Director) called Olive the Other Reindeer gave birth to yet another addition to the herd. Now why does that name sound so familiar? Oh right. All of the other reindeer.
What about his workshop?
"A very busy time indeed. Our elves have been busy building, creating, and taking note of special requests all year long."
How can children send those special requests all the way to the North Pole? Thanks to Canada Post, a special postal code for letters to Santa was created in1982. The address (Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0) is sent to volunteer postal worker elves who respond to the notes. No postage required.
Did you know that on December 23, 2008, Canada's minster of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney awarded Santa Claus Canadian citizenship?
"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.
Of course, this year has been a different one with COVID-19. How will this affect Santa?
Thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. NIAID Director said in regard to the pandemic, "Santa is exempt from this (COVID-19 regulations) because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity."
In case you were wondering, Transport Canada announced Wednesday that the Honourable Marc Garneau cleared Santa for take-off in Canadian airspace.
According to their website, "Transport Canada safety experts have also conducted their routine sleigh and reindeer inspections and validated Santa's pilot license."
As stated by Garneau, "This year, it's especially important for Santa to follow the measures in place for safe travel. Santa and his crew provide an essential service in Canada and I am thrilled to clear Santa for take-off in Canadian airspace this Christmas."
You can track Santa online beginning Christmas Eve.