Art & Culture
Coffee with Santa
December 15, 2019
You’d better watch out, you’d better not shout, you’d better not cry I’m telling you why ‘cause Santa Claus is coming to town…ever thought of paying him a visit?
Believe it or not, Santa Claus lives in Lapland, in the north of Finland. You do not even have to wait till Christmas to see him; you can make your way to Rovaniemi, Santa Claus’ Village in the Arctic Circle, any day of the year. Santa receives more than 500,000 guests annually.
Rovaniemi has been Santa’s home since the 1950’s when his visits to the Arctic Circle first began. Over the years his trips up North, the cause of which were the children, became so regular that he made it his home. Today, this village includes Santa Claus’ Office and Santa Claus’ Main Post Office as well as the Reindeer Park and Santa Park nearby.
However, Santa’s secret getaway, his private home and workshop, is in the East of Lapland, on the Korvatunturi Fell, where he was first spotted in 1920. This secluded area of Korvatunturi, situated on the border between Finland and Russia, is impossible to reach by anyone. The 483-meter high fell is home to Mrs. Claus and workshop to the elves that busy themselves preparing gifts. And if you ever wondered how Santa could hear if you were crying or shouting it’s because of the fell’s unique ear-shape.
The Santa Claus that we all know and love is, in fact, a combination of various different legends and myths from around the world.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Santa story began with a real person, Saint Nicholas, a Saint of the 4th century. He was reputed to have given marriage dowries of gold to three girls whom poverty would have forced into lives of prostitution. It is also said that he often gave joy to poor children by throwing in gifts through their windows.
The Orthodox Church later raised St. Nicholas, miracle worker, to a position of great esteem. It was in his honor that Russia’s oldest church, for example, was built. As for the Roman Catholic Church, it honored St. Nicholas as a helper of the children and the poor.
In the Protestant areas of Central and Northern Germany, St. Nicholas later became known as der Weinachtsmann, while in England he became known as Father Christmas. St. Nicholas then made his way to the United States with Dutch immigrants where he was referred to as Santa Claus.
In North American poetry and illustrations, Santa Claus, in his white beard, red jacket and pompom-topped cap, sallies forth on the night before Christmas in his sleigh, pulled by reindeers, and falls down chimneys to leave his gifts in stockings laid out by children on the fireplace mantel.
As curiosity grew and questions arose from the children, a legend began to form. They wanted to know where Santa Claus came from, where he spent his time when he wasn’t delivering gifts, and what he looked like. The story of Santa, the North Pole and his workshop emerged. However, in 1925, when attention was brought upon the fact that grazing reindeers in the North Pole is near impossible, newspapers revealed that Santa Claus lives in Lapland’s Korvatunturi in Finland.
Over the centuries, the customs and cultures of different parts of the Northern Hemisphere came together and created the whole world of Santa Claus – the ageless, timeless, immortal white-bearded man who gives gifts on Christmas and always returns to Korvatunturi.
So, if you feel like giving Santa those cookies and milk yourself, why not take a trip to Finnish Lapland and make a childhood dream come true. It will be a truly memorable experience, guaranteed to bring out the child in you.