NORAD Santa Tracker 2019: How to follow Santa Claus' journey on Christmas Eve
The most wonderful time of year is nearly here, with just one day to go until Christmas Day. During the festive season, millions of children count down the days of December and go to sleep on Christmas Eve, excitedly awaiting the delivery of their Christmas gifts from the beloved Santa Claus.
Thanks to modern technology, children (and adults) can follow Father Christmas’ journey across the globe on December 24 using the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Google’s Santa trackers.
From the history behind NORAD’s holiday role to finding out what time you can expect an appearance down your chimney, here is everything you need to know about Santa’s busiest night of the year.
Santa’s journey across the globe
Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa sets off on his sleigh from Lapland with his trusty reindeer, travelling an estimated 510,000,000 km – approximately 1,800 miles per second.
Christmas Eve is a busy time for Father Christmas as he needs to visit 390,000 homes per minute – or 6,424 per second.
From sherry, mulled wine and beer, to mince pies, gingerbread men and fruit cake, Santa won’t be short of energy during his journey, consuming a total of 71,764,000,000 calories.
With plenty of driving involved throughout the night, let’s hope children opt to leave him non-alcoholic beverages.
Santa’s travel route
Father Christmas’ journey always begins in the South Pacific, with his first stop to the Republic of Kiribati, a collection of 32 atolls in the Pacific Ocean.
He then travels west, delivering presents to those in New Zealand and Australia, followed by Japan.
Santa then carries on his journey to Asia, Africa and Western Europe, concluding with Canada, the US, Mexico and South America.
How to track Santa’s journey with NORAD
Throughout the year, the US and Canadian organisation NORAD, monitors aerospace in event of nuclear attack, but when Christmas Eve comes around, they monitor the skies for Santa’s sleigh.
Every year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website receives nearly nine million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories across the globe who are keen to follow Santa on his journey. On December 24, 1,500 volunteers respond to emails and receive more than 140,000 calls regarding Santa’s exact whereabouts.
Earlier this month, NORAD launched their festive website, with games, videos, music and stories, all available in a range of languages.
On Christmas Eve, the official Santa tracker will launch, enabling keen followers of Father Christmas to monitor his journey of delivering presents.
The history behind NORAD’s role at Christmas
On a Christmas Eve shift back in 1955, Colonel Harry Shoup answered a call made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in Colorado Springs, USA.
To his surprise, a young child had phoned the top secret line after finding a newspaper advert about ‘Santa’s Toyland’ from department store Sears, with the number of CONAD, NORAD’s predecessor, printed by mistake.
Colonel Shoup, dubbed “Santa Colonel”, later received multiple calls that night from other children, all looking for the whereabouts of Father Christmas.
He and his fellow call operators together informed the children calling throughout the night of Santa’s exact location. The Santa tracking tradition, later continued by NORAD, was born.
NORAD has carried out it’s Christmas role for over 60 years and since 1997, children across the globe have been able to monitor Santa’s journey online.
More than 50 years after the night of calls from children, Colonel Shoup’s granddaughter Carrie Farrell, who worked for Google, announced their partnership with NORAD to track Santa in 2007 – although the companies have since parted ways, carrying out their holiday roles separately.
How to track Santa’s journey with Google
Following the success of NORAD’s holiday role, Google launched Keyhole Santa Radar in 2004 as part of Keyhole Earth Viewer, now known as Google Earth.
Google later developed the Santa Tracker website and each year at the start of December, Santa’s Village launches, with an array of fun games and educational resources for children and families.
This year, children can improve their coding skills with Santa’s Elves, learn how to say different seasonal greetings from around the world and take a holiday traditions quiz. They can even use their Google Assistants to call Santa or tune in to the daily North Pole Newscast.
On Christmas Eve, Santa’s Village will transform into a tracking experience, allowing children to monitor his progress of delivering presents on their desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
Santa Claus around the world
While Britons often picture Father Christmas to be a jolly character with a white beard, wearing a red suit and big black boots, other countries around the world visualise the beloved festive figure differently.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, Santa is known as Sinterklaas, who wears a bishop’s alb and cape with a ruby ring and travels on a white horse.
In Russia, Grandfather Frost arrives on New Year’s Eve to deliver gifts whereas in Finland, Joulupukki knocks on children’s doors on Christmas Eve to ask if they have been well-behaved.
In France, Pere Noël rides a donkey called Gui, putting sweets inside children’s shoes left near the chimney while in Italy, an old witch called La Befana delivers presents to good children.
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