SPARKS — Santa Claus is such a jolly, secular myth that literally anyone can appreciate the overweight bearer of gifts without offense to their religion, creed or nationality.
In truth, however, there is really no accounting for Santa’s popularity worldwide, other than the fact that he seems to embody the seasonal act of giving and receiving.
As his appeal has grown, Santa has seen demand for his services grow in direct proportion.
There are an estimated 2.1 billion Christians in the world today. But Santa likely has more clients than that.
An estimated 1 billion people identify as agnostic, atheist or non-religious, and most hail from Western nations steeped in the Judeo-Christian faith. That means many nonbelievers likely still celebrate Christmas, just without the Christ. And therefore Santa is still invited down the chimney.
Of course, the bad boys and girls have to be culled from the fat man’s list, otherwise there is simply no way Santa could deliver all those gifts in time.
It’s rumored, however, that Santa is checking his list not just twice, but three and four times over this year. In addition, it’s been said that since the economic recession hit in 2008, the bar has been raised for those hoping to make the good list. Some of the more stringent new behavioral rules for young boys and girls include a prohibition on eating sugar-free cookies and non-fat ice cream.
Whatever the number, Santa has a lot of presents to deliver overnight and one can’t help but wonder how he can possibly manage the task?
Fortunately, NORAD will be tracking Santa’s progress tonight and your children can follow along at www.noradsanta.org.
NORAD has tracked Santa’s sleigh ride from the North Pole since 1955.
“Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west,” NORAD reports. “So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. But keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable.”
NORAD estimates that Santa is about 1,600 years old, stands five feet seven inches tall and weighs a healthy 260 pounds.
Satellite surveillance of the North Pole last month appeared to show eight reindeers hitting the gym hard in preparation for a record-setting Christmas. Word leaked that Rudolph suffered a minor strain in his right hind leg, but a declassified injury report lists all the reindeers as probable for Christmas.
NORAD estimated that Santa’s sleigh will carry 60,000 tons of gifts for lucky children this year.
According to this reporter’s sources, Santa has established a base of operations and toy factory somewhere in northern Nevada in recent years, ostensibly to shorten the distance he has to travel on Christmas.
NORAD will be tracking Santa’s movements all day long with the help of Google Earth and 3D technology.