The story of NORAD’s role at Christmas
While on a Christmas Eve shift in 1955, Colonel Harry Shoup responded to a call to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in Colorado Springs, United States.
To his surprise, a young child had called the top secret line after finding an ad in a newspaper about “Santa’s Toyland” from the Sears department store, with the number of CONAD, NORAD’s predecessor, printed in error.
Colonel Shoup, nicknamed “Santa Colonel”, subsequently received several calls that night from other children, all inquiring about the whereabouts of Santa Claus.
He and his fellow call operators briefed the children calling throughout the night of Santa’s exact location. The tradition of tracking Santa Claus, later continued by NORAD, was born.
NORAD has been fulfilling its Christmas role for over 60 years and since 1997 children around the world can follow Santa’s journey online.
More than 50 years after the night of the children’s calls, Colonel Shoup’s granddaughter Carrie Farrell, who worked for Google, announced her partnership with NORAD to track Santa Claus in 2007 – though the companies have since gone their separate ways. , fulfilling their holiday roles separately.
How to Track Santa’s Journey with Google
Following the success of NORAD’s vacation role, Google launched Keyhole Santa Radar in 2004 as part of Keyhole Earth Viewer, now known as Google Earth.
Google then developed the Santa Tracker website and each year in early December, Santa’s Village is launched, with a range of fun games and educational resources for kids and families.
This year, kids can improve their coding skills with Santa’s Elves, learn to say different seasonal greetings from around the world, and take a quiz on holiday traditions. They can even use their Google Assistants to call Santa Claus or log into the daily North Pole Newscast.
On Christmas Eve, Santa’s Village will turn into a tracking experience, allowing kids to track his progress by delivering gifts on their desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
Read more: Will it be a white Christmas this year?
Santa in the world
While the British often imagine Santa Claus as a cheerful character with a white beard, dressed in a red suit and chunky black boots, other countries around the world view the beloved festive figure differently.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, Santa Claus is known as Sinterklaas, who wears a bishop’s alb and cloak with a ruby ring and rides on a white horse.
In Russia, Grandpa Frost arrives on New Year’s Eve to deliver gifts while in Finland, Joulupukki knocks on children’s doors on Christmas Eve to ask them if they have behaved.
In France, Santa Claus rides a donkey called Gui, putting candy in children’s shoes left by the fireplace while in Italy, an old witch called La Befana gives gifts to good children.