Come Christmas and children around the world eagerly wait for Santa Claus to come out of his home in the North Pole and travel across the world on his sleigh to deliver presents. But where does Santa Claus live and from where he begins his journey?
These questions do bother children who firmly believe in his existence. While the North Pole still remains the mythical home for Father Christmas, a small village called Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland is considered the official town of the jolly old man.
Situated in the Arctic Circle, the village hosts a huge event — called Santa is on his way — to celebrate Santa's annual ride as he embarks on a journey to spread Christmas cheers around the globe. This year, the glittery event will be broadcast live for the first time on winter wonderland Rovaniemi's official Facebook page.
"As a display of true Christmas spirit, the elves now want to share the event with the whole world via live broadcast," the organisers of the event said in a news release.
Click here to watch the glittery event live stream online on Facebook on Saturday (23 December) at 7pm local time (5pm UK time). You can also visit the official website of Rovaniemi and watch the event online by clicking here. The event can be watched in all the countries around the world.
In addition to extending good wishes to Santa ahead of his most awaited annual journey, the Rovaniemi event will also feature his special Christmas message to the world before he hops on his reindeer-driven sleigh and travels the world with a bag full of presents. The elves will also be seen singing Christmas songs to celebrate the festive fervour.
With snow blanketing the entire village and colorful decorative lights adding a sparkle to the pristine white surfaces, Rovaniemi appears like a location from picturesque movies like the magical land of Narnia.
Christmas is a special occasion for children who go to any extent to be in Santa's good books and win desired gifts from him. Most of the children believe in the myth that the old man with a thick white beard, clad in a bright red and white dress, will drop presents in their stockings on Christmas Eve, which they excitedly unwrap the next morning. Children adore their Santa Claus, but very few know who he is or where is he from.
Who is Santa?
The name Santa Claus or Father Christmas was inspired by Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint and Greek bishop of the community of Myra. He is thus, also referred to as Saint Nicholas as well as Kris Kringle.
His appearance — the red and white costume, portly figure and white hair and beard — is believed to have become popular in the US and Canada in the 19th century after drawing inspiration from the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C Moore, and from caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast's illustrations of the saint. Santa's sleigh and the eight reindeer were also popularised by the poem that narrates the story of a sleigh driven by a herd of reindeer named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem.
Other Santas around the world
Like Santa, there are different fictional characters in different countries who are adored by children. In the UK, Santa is known as Father Christmas while in the Scandinavian countries, he is more popular as Jultomten — an elf who distributes gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats.
Russia has Babouschka, an old woman who leaves gifts for children, while Children in Italy adore La Befana, a kind witch.