Monday, December 23, 2013
Whatever you celebrate - or not - this time of year, the article below is a Nordic look at "Santa" and the customs that surround 'him'. HAPPY HOLIDAY!
Finns are fanatical about Santa. They believe that Santa or as he’s known locally by his Finnish stage name, Joulupukki, lives with the 'Missus' in Rovaniemi, Finland. The town of Rovaniemi holds trademarks from the EU, US, and Japan designating it as “The Official Hometown of Santa Claus®.”
Finland's fixation with Santa resulted in the Finnish Claus being banned from the World Santa Claus Congress, an invitation only event, which is held annually in Denmark. The Finnish Santa was placed on the naughty list after he declared that he would only attend if the Congress acknowledged that he was the one true Santa.
As Finland embarks on its quest for world Santa domination, Danes and Greenlanders concur that Julemanden, as he’s known by his Danish alias, lives in a secret castle on a mountain in Greenland. The 50,000 letters sent to Santa annually in Greenland are delivered to Santa’s giant, red mailbox, which has the distinction of being the world’s largest. Julemanden relies upon Greenlandic huskies, each one named after a different month, to power his sleigh.
Compared to their neighbors, Swedes are the least obsessed with whether Jultomte glides through customs and immigration with the use of a Swedish passport. Nevertheless, when Santa shares the spotlight with Donald Duck in the Walt Disney television special 'From All of Us to All of You', this Christmas Eve broadcast brings the country to a standstill. Many families gather around the television to watch this classic, which has been going since 1959.
Norway’s Julenissen is thought to reside in Drøbak, located near Oslo. Norwegians believe that after Christmas, Julenissen sleeps for weeks to regain his strength. In between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, when Santa is in deep hibernation mode, children dress up as elves and go door to door in their neighbourhood seeking treats in much the same way American children go trick or treating on Halloween.
Icelanders lay claim to thirteen Santa Clauses, or Jólasveinar. They arrive one by one each day starting on the morning of 12th December until Christmas Day. The Jólasveinar will leave small gifts in the shoes of well-behaved children who place them in their windowsills, while naughty children receive a potato.
The countries that hug the Arctic Circle may have the most meritorious claims to Santa but his lineage is unimportant as he transcends nationalities and borders. What is important is the spirit of generosity and hope in those who still dare to believe.