Is There Really a Santa Claus?
Once a year, millions of children around the world eagerly wait for a plump, bearded man dressed in red and white to bring them presents. Known as Santa Claus, his origins are mysterious and his very existence has been disputed. Some people believe that he lives and works in the North Pole, employs a group of elves to manufacture toys, distributes the gifts annually with the aid of flying reindeer, and regularly utters "ho ho ho" in a commanding voice.

But is Santa Claus man or myth? Santa believers argue that he is commonly sighted at shopping malls, that the disappearance of milk and cookies left for him is evidence of his existence, and that, after all, those Christmas gifts have to come from somewhere.

Santa skeptics argue that no one man could deliver presents to millions of households in one night, that his toy factory has never been located in the vicinity of the North Pole, and that Christmas presents are really purchased in secret by parents. Read More...

Did You Know?
  1. The first time Santa appeared in his now-classic red and white outfit was in work by illustrator Thomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly in the 1860s.

  2. Every Christmas since 1958 the North American Aerospace Defense Command (known as NORAD) has tracked Santa's worldwide flight using radar and satellites.

  3. Santa's ancestor, St. Nicholas, was a monk born around 280 AD in what is now known as Turkey.

  4. The first time Santa was spotted in a department store was in 1890 in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Pro & Con Arguments: "Is There Really a Santa Claus?"
PRO
1

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy… He lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

New York Sun editorial, Sep. 21, 1897




PRO
2

"Mountains of historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information leads us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world...

Based on flight profile data gathered from over 50 years of NORAD's radar and satellite tracking, NORAD concludes that Santa probably stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds (before cookies). Based on fighter-aircraft photos, we know he has a generous girth (belly), rosy cheeks from sleigh riding in cold weather, and a flowing white beard...

NORAD can confirm that Santa’s sleigh is a versatile, all weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle. It is capable of traveling vast distances without refueling and is deployed, as far as we know, only on December 24th (and sometimes briefly for a test flight about a month before Christmas)."

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Dec. 2014


PRO
3

"Science has long shown that Santa Claus is real, and those who claim otherwise are invariably in the pocket of the big toy companies, who don’t want people thinking they can get free playthings and so will pay for their products.

But the evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt, and the arguments of the Santa deniers have been repeatedly debunked...

Admittedly, the whole 'flying reindeer' thing does seem very far-fetched, and this is a fair accusation. Investigations suggest that the flying reindeer image is a distortion of the truth, in that reindeer are native to the Arctic so Santa may well keep reindeer on his premises and perhaps they did pull his sleigh originally. But there is substantial evidence now to suggest that Santa powers his sled with the energy obtained from a precisely controlled quantum singularity. Basically, Santa has access to a small black hole, which he uses to perform his duties."

Dean Burnett, PhD (neuroscientist), "Santa Claus Deniers: Why Do They Get So Much Airtime?," The Guardian website, Dec. 11, 2014
CON
1

Ebenezer Scrooge"Bah! Humbug!"

Ebenezer Scrooge, Dec. 19, 1843


CON
2

"Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth... we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles...

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour...

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa...

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer'... could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons."

Spy magazine, Jan. 1990
 
Background: "Is There Really a Santa Claus?"
Vintage Santa Claus
A vintage representation of Santa Claus.
Source: universalheretic.wordpress.com (accessed Dec. 15, 2014)
Once a year, millions of children around the world eagerly wait for a plump, bearded man dressed in red and white to bring them presents. Known as Santa Claus, his origins are mysterious and his very existence has been disputed. Some people believe that he lives and works in the North Pole, employs a group of elves to manufacture toys, distributes the gifts annually with the aid of flying reindeer, and regularly utters "ho ho ho" in a commanding voice.

But is Santa Claus man or myth? Santa proponents argue that he is commonly sighted at shopping malls, that the disappearance of milk and cookies left for him is evidence of his existence, and that, after all, those Christmas gifts have to come from somewhere.

Santa opponents argue that no one man could deliver presents to millions of households in one night, that his toy factory has never been located in the vicinity of the North Pole, and that Christmas presents are really purchased in secret by parents.

Santa Claus, as we know him today, first appeared in North America in the early 19th Century, but his ancestor is believed by many to be St. Nicholas, a monk born around 280 AD in what is now known as Turkey. Reputed to be kind and generous, St. Nick became the subject of several legends, and his Dutch name, Sinter Klaas (shortened from Sint Nikolas) eventually evolved into Santa Claus. Early images of Santa portrayed him wearing a variety of robes, hats, and colored stockings, and he looked nothing like the familiar rotund figure we know today.

Santa's modern appearance has been traced to an 1822 poem titled "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas"), written by American author Clement Clarke Moore, which described him as having a "beard on his chin… as white as the snow," and being "chubby and plump." He was also described as being "little," and was pulled in "a miniature sleigh" by "eight tiny rein-deer."

In the late 19th Century, the classic Santa we know and love came into being, dressed in a red outfit trimmed with white fur, in images drawn by illustrator Thomas Nast and first published in Harper's Weekly from 1863-1866. Santa remained half-size, however, until later in the century. Before Nast’s interpretation emerged, one portrayal of Santa in Harper's Weekly showed him beardless and in a sleigh pulled by a turkey. Contrary to a common misconception, the Coca-Cola Company did not invent the red-suited Santa, although they did feature the jolly gift-giver dressed that way in a 1930s advertising campaign, which may have led to the popularization of this instantly-recognizable outfit.

The first time Santa was spotted in a department store
NORAD tracks Santa's flight around the globe
Each year, NORAD tracks Santa's progress around the globe.
Source: Matt Soniak, "Why Did NORAD Start Tracking Santa?," mentalfloss.com, Dec. 16, 2012
was in 1890 in Brockton, Massachusetts, although some believe it was nothing more than the store owner, named James Edgar, dressed in a costume.

In the UK and some other English-speaking countries, Santa Claus is known as Father Christmas, and in French-speaking areas he is known as Père Noël. Each of these alternate Santas was once a distinct individual, but they are now virtually synonymous.

In 1955, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) began tracking Santa's yearly flight, a tradition that was adopted in 1958 by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD. With the use of radar and satellites, NORAD follows Santa's progress as he delivers his Christmas present payload. According to NORAD, the satellites use infrared sensors to detect the bright red nose of one of Santa's reindeer, known as Rudolph.

Whether or not Santa Claus is real, his presence is felt around the world each Christmas, and his popularity only seems to grow every year. He appears in movies, shopping centers, at Christmas parties, and, many believe, in chimneys everywhere, carrying his sack full of presents.




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