Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas Eve! Do You Know Where Santa Is? NORAD Does!


For Western Christianity, Christmas Eve falls on December 24, and is a time of religious and festive celebration. With the spread of the idea of Santa Claus, it is also a secular vigil for a visit from a jolly old man, bearing gifts, especially for children, which he distributes by sleigh over the night of the 24th to the early morning of the 25th. Of course his sleigh is drawn by his 8 reindeer, with Rudolph's bright red nose guiding the way.

Traditionally, most haven't known of Santa's whereabouts in the world until Christmas morning when they discover that he has left presents in the stockings they hung on the mantle, and under the Christmas tree. If they were so kind as to leave him cookies and milk, they will discover he had enjoyed the snack.

In recent years, however, all may track Santa's progress around the world, thanks to the efforts of NORAD ( North American Aerospace Defense Command), a US-Canada governmental military organization created in 1958, during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, to defend North American airspace and territory. Since 9/11 its surveillance includes all airflight within the USA.


Beginning in 1955, and starting with its predecessor program, NORAD has annually turned its military attention to helping children track Santa. This initiative grew out of an misprint that gave NORAD's telephone number in Colorado to a Santa Line set up by a local Sears store.


The Colonel in charge that night, Colonel Shoup, told all staff to reply to children's questions with a "current location" for Santa. The idea has expanded into a program of volunteers manning phones, emails, and now Twitter and Facebook.


Moreover, all with internet access can track Santa via the NORAD Santa Tracker website, as he begins his journey from the North Pole into the first of the Christmas Eve time zones then moves east to west covering the globe from north to south. Along the way they visit the places he does, and NORAD volunteers narrate the journey, describe important stops, and  put up videos of interesting places.

NORAD's Santa tracker of course has a mobile phone app; and, while Santa speaks all languages, the rest of us have the option of tracking him in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

For those who may have forgotten their Santa details in the bustle of adult life, please read below:

The Night Before Christmas Poem
By Clement C. Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Oh, my, it's getting late! This little Santa's helper should go to bed, because Santa will wait until all are asleep to come down our chimney. Besides, there are no "I Saw Auntie Kissing Santa Claus" songs!



Merry Christmas to All!

And to All a Good Night!

4 comments:

Wendy said...

Merry Christmas to all and especially Chiara and her family! I hope Santa found you!

coolred38 said...

Merry Christmas Chiara...hope your getting through this particularly stressful time of year.

btw Year of the Instigator is just about over...thinking up a Year of...*hmmm* wondering what sort of mood I will enter the New Year in. Any ideas?

oby said...

Ooooh this brings up such happy memories. For years I would follow Santa with my daughter on NORAD via the computer and it helped maintain the excitement right up until bedtime. She's 11 and has reluctantly given up Santa...but I have a sneaking suspicion that she would love to roll back the clock and still have that magical belief well and alive in her heart and mind.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wendy said...

Apparently Michelle Obama manned the Norad phone line for about 40 minutes on Christmas Eve. Canada again sent up some fighter jets to escort Santa and his reindeer into our country. I just love it when they do that!!! Much better than going off to scare or bomb somebody, eh? Very Canadian I'd say. :)

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