Santa Claus is one of the most ubiquitous figures in modern culture. A version of him is celebrated around the world, and while some have some pretty notable differences - in the Netherlands, for example, Santa Claus has a sidekick named Grumpus who threatens to kidnap naughty children - it usually boils down to the same general premise Furthermore: When children have behaved well all year round, a magical bearded man breaks into their houses at night and leaves gifts.
You might think you know everything about Kris Kringle or Jolly Old Saint Nick or any of the dozens of different names he is called around the world. But we're willing to bet there are a few fun facts you've never heard of. Maybe you're one of those Scrooges who don't care about Santa anymore because you think he's just a myth. Well, if that's true, then you've probably never heard that Claus hasn't been included in the "Forbes Fictional 15," an annual list of the wealthiest fictional characters, since 2006 because they received too many letters from angry readersinsisted he was real. "After considering the physical evidence – toys delivered, milk and biscuits devoured", theEditors explained, "we thought it safer to take him out of consideration."
And that is just the beginning. Here are 17 notable and curious tales from the colorful tale of the most famous overweight elf whose entire business is giving away toys to children, ostensibly without any profit margin the world has ever known.
His sled is probably the fastest vehicle ever built.
Santa doesn't get enough credit for the amount he makes in just one night. It's one thing to say that he visits every boy and girl and leaves them gifts, but when you add up the numbers you begin to see what a stunning job this really is. There are approximately 2.1 billion children in the world and an average of 2.5 children per household.
That means he has to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, which takes 31 hours (thanks to time zone differences).It has been calculatedthat his sled must travel 1,800 miles to get to every house in that timeper second. Compare that to thisNASA's Juno spacecraft, often considered the fastest man-made object, reaching speeds of only 40 miles per second.
He only wears red ever since he started yelling for Coca-Cola.
Santa has had a wide range of colorful outfits over the years - green, brown, blue and even tan - but it's only been known since 1931 that he primarily wears a red and white suit. All of this is thanks to the Coca-Cola company who used Santa Claus to sell cola products in the early 30's and of course dressed him in the brand's signature colors. It has been ever since, and Santa continues to be one of the centerpieces of Coke's Christmas advertising campaign.
He was a bachelor for many years.
Santa Claus (or some version of Santa Claus) has been around for centuries and has been a part of American culture since at least the late 17th century. But it wasn't until the mid-1800s that anyone bothered to wonder if Santa would ever give up his bachelor ways and settle down. His spouse was first revealed in a short story in 1849 - "A Christmas Legend," written by a Philadelphia missionary named James Rees - and Mrs. Claus soon became a staple of Christmas stories. But it wasn't until 1889 that she called for more attention to the holiday in a poem entitled "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride." "Why should you have all the glory of the Merry Christmas Carol?" she asks her husband.
Santa's chimney delivery system was invented by the same guy who came up with the headless horseman.
We owe to Washington Irving, the author most remembered for giving the world The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, for inventing a better way for Santa to deliver presents than through a window to slip. In Irving's 1812 satirical short story, "Knickerbocker's History of New York," Saint Nick is first described as "ratter[ing] down the chimney" to "bring his annual presents to the children." You thought this legend started with "Twas the Night Before Christmas"? No, that was almost 12 years later, and although the more famous poem altered Irving's version—Santa Claus got a reindeer sleigh instead of a self-propelled wagon—Irving deserves credit for all those chimney visits.
Nobody is really sure who wrote "Twas the Night Before Christmas".
When "A Visit from St. Nicholas" - or as it later came to be known, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" - was first published in a New York newspaper in 1823, no name was associated with it. It was sent anonymously to theTroy Sentineland was published with an editors' foreword that began: "We do not know to whom we owe the following description of that indefatigable patron saint of children, Santa Claus...but, whoever wrote it, we are grateful." "
In 1844 it was attributed to a Bible professor named Clement Clarke Moore, but there are some who insist it was stolen from the true author, Henry Livingston, Jr., and there was even (allegedly) an ancient manuscript to prove it . But, of course, this supposed “evidence” was destroyed in a fire.The mystery continuesto this day.
All letters addressed to Santa Claus in the United States go to the same post office.
Since about 1914, all letters addressed to Santa Claus have gone to the same place. No, not the North Pole; They end up in a small post office in Santa Claus, Indiana, where every letter with a return address receives a reply, handwritten by the postmaster or one of his many "eleven" volunteers. Pat Koch carries on the tradition started by his father and his many helpers share his enthusiasm. "They write us a letter and want a reply from Santa," said Ed Rinehart, an elf at Santa's Post Officein an interview."So it's my job to make sure those letters get mailed back to her."
Outside of the US, some countries have gone a step further and created unique zip codes just for Santa. Be sure to include the code 99999 when writing to Santa in Finland, and in Canada the correct postcode is the oh-so-clever H0H 0H0. Thanks to the Canadian literacy initiative "Santa Letter-Writing Program", the Oberelf personally replies to every single letter.
Santa probably needs some more reindeer.
For all the children in the world who Santa owes presents to on Christmas Eve, he has to carry at least 400,000 tons of toys around in his sleigh. And to haul that kind of load you'd need a little more horsepower - um,reindeerPower - than what it supposedly entails. Supposedly he only has nine reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph - but he would need at least one360.000magical reindeer to get a sled with that much raw tonnage airborne.
There is a heated debate about what Santa's salary should be.
Hat Santa-therealSanta Claus, not the thousands of Santas and impersonators in malls - earns a salary? The authors of Insure.com thought so and attempted to calculate Santa's earning potential using payroll data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your luckiest guess is that Santa makes $140,000 annually.
Well, not everyone agrees.A surveyof Insure.com found that 29 percent of people thought Santa should make about $1.8 billion annually, while 29 percent thought he wasshould do the job pro bono. A smaller fraction, 17 percent, believed that Mr. Claus should earn a little less than $100,000 a year, while 16 percent thought his salary should be somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.
He's not particularly loved by Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Over 54,000 hometown fans watched as the Philadelphia Eagles suffered a humiliating loss during a snowy December 1968 game. Suffice it to say that the mood was not festive. So it should come as no surprise that a half-time Santa's performance didn't go as planned. The jolly old elf was greeted with boos and then the crowd started throwing snowballs at him.
Did you at least feel remorse after the game? nope thegeneral consensus among fanswas "Santa had it coming." The guy, who dressed up like Santa for the game, when asked if he would repeat the performance, replied: "No way. If it doesn't snow, they'll probably throw beer bottles."
Two different cities claim to be the "true" home of Santa Claus.
You'd think the town of North Pole, Alaska, would have good reason to claim -- as Paul Brown, the general manager of Santa Claus House,once did– that they are “Santa’s house at the North Pole. If you want to meet the real guy, come here.” But another city, Rovaniemi, in Finland's northernmost province, insists that it is “thejustOfficial Hometown of Santa Clauseaccording to a communications officerfor tourism in Rovaniemi. "And the Santa Claus Office in Santa Claus Village is thatjustPlace on earth to meet Santa Claus 365 days a year.” Boys, boys, relax! Can't we find a compromise where Santa might split his time between two hometowns?
Marvel Comics called Santa Claus "the most powerful mutant of all time".
We knew Santa had magical powers, but who knew he was a real mutant too? Not only that, he's also apparently "the most powerful mutant ever recorded," and that's according to Cerebro, the mutant-detection device developed by Professor X for the X-Men of the Marvel Universe. We learned this shocking news in a special1991 X-Men-Comic, in which the hero team travels to New York City to investigate the so-calledOmega-Level-Mutant, and discover Santa's abilities including immortality, telepathy, teleportation, weather manipulation, molecular manipulation, immunity to cold and heat, and gravity manipulation.
He has a pilot's license and a (Canadian) passport.
So that you don't have to worry that Santa Claus is not legally allowed to fly, he has been officially exhibiteda pilot's licenseby the US government in 1927. He also has a passport, but that's a bit more controversial. Both Santa Claus and Mrs Claus received their own ePassports in 2013 –from Canada. During a special ceremony in Toronto, Immigration Secretary Chris Alexander said of the vacationing couple: "Like so many Canadian citizens who love to travel extensively around the world, the Claus' were thrilled to receive their e-passports - which are among the world's most widely accepted and secure Travel documents…whether you're traveling by car, by boat, or in a team of flying reindeer.” The United States and every other country that has a claim to Santa Claus has yet to respond, but that is overridden by an international incident .
Christmas was once against the law.
The Puritans of New England weren't fans of Santa Claus. Following the tradition of their British ancestors, who declared that December 25 should be a day of "fasting and humiliation," the Massachusetts Bay Colony court passed a law in 1659 warning "anyone who celebrates such a day commits, warns at Christmas or the like, whether by abstention from work, celebration or otherwise" be fined up to five shillings for the offence. What was the big deal? Stephen Nissenbaum, author ofThe fight for Christmas,explained in the interviewthat "Puritans believed that Christmas was basically just a pagan custom adopted by Catholics without any biblical basis for it."
He originally delivered money to keep children from growing up to be courtesans.
Santa wasn't always a benevolent elf, leaving gifts for children to reward good behavior. He began as St. Nicholas, the 4th century bishop in Patara or what is now called Turkey. Nicholas was appalled that neighborhood girls could be sold into sex work by their fathers, so he secretly delivered sacks of gold to each family to use as dowries for their daughters, increasing the chances of them finding a husband . Since this was more than 900 years before the chimney was even invented, Santa Claus threw the money through their windows.
He is also said to have saved children from being murdered by evil butchers and sold as ham. If Santa Claus had continued these traditions into modern times, Christmas would be a very, very different holiday. "Merry Christmas! I hope Santa Clause visits you tonight and saves you from becoming a courtesan and/or luncheon!"
He eatsAwaytoo much sugar.
Santa didn't get a little round belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl of jelly from eating too much broccoli. No, Kris Kringle loves his candy. And he has millions of children around the world who encourage his bad habits. If every household he visits leaves an average of two cookies for Santa, that means he burns 374 billion calories, 33,000 tons of sugar and 151,000 tons of fat in a single evening. toBurn off all those empty calories, Santa would have to walk about 109,000 years. Good luck with that, Santa!
He gets most letters from France.
Santa Claus gets billions of letters from children around the world every year, but if you think most of them come from the United States, you're wrong. The country that sends the most paper mail to Santa every Christmas seasonaccording to statistical information, is none other than France. That's right, French boys and girls send a staggering 1.7 million letters to Jolly Old Saint Nick, compared to 1.35 million from Canada and just over a million letters from the United States. Mexico and Latin America didn't even make the list, perhaps due to the Mexican custom of children putting their letters to Santa in helium balloons and letting them rise into the air.
There is no Santa Claus in Iceland.
Before you get sad that Iceland never gets a visit from St. Nick, you might actually have it better off than the rest of us. Instead of Santa they have thirteen"christmas boys,', which are like mischievous mini versions of Santa Claus, with names like Bowl Licker, Sausage Swiper, Pot Scraper, and Spoon Licker. One of them visits Icelandic children every day between December 11th and January 6th and leaves presents in their shoes (provided they are well behaved.)
There's also something called Grýla, which is rumored to cook children alive if they haven't listened to their parents, and a scary black cat called the Christmas Cat, which will eat children who don't wear at least one new pair of clothes with sounds kind of hard for us. Actually we take it back. Youshouldsad for Iceland. That sounds like an awful Christmas. And for more stories that will bring you to your knees, head here23 Urban Legends That Are Absolutely True.
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