Christmas is upon us and there’s no stopping Santa Claus—not even the COVID-19 pandemic—to fulfill his worldwide mission of gift-giving.
In just a few hours, Santa is set to begin his journey with his sleigh shiny, massive bag of gifts secured and a herd of reindeer (including Rudolph, of course) ready to go.
Some countries have cleared Santa as an “essential worker” and exempted him from any travel restrictions so he can continue to spread joy and cheer. In these extraordinary times, some kids and their parents will forgo the tradition of leaving treats for Santa and his reindeer. Instead, some of them will thoughtfully leave facemasks and hand sanitizers.
According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Santa’s journey always historically starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and he travels westward.
He is known to visit the Pacific island of Kiribati first and the South Pacific islands, then New Zealand and Australia. From there, he visits Asia, Africa, Europe, Canada, the US, then onto Mexico and Central and South America before he heads back home to the North Pole (or to the Finnish Lapland, where many also believe he lives with Mrs. Claus).
Below are ways on how you can track Santa's journey around the world on Christmas Eve.
NORAD Santa Tracker
NORAD, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a combined organization of the US and Canada that protects the two countries’ airspace.
For 65 years, every Dec. 24, NORAD gets on a very special mission of tracking Santa Claus using the same systems it uses every day: satellite systems, high-powered radar and jet fighters.
The tradition reportedly started in 1955 when a child accidentally dialed the phone number of the then Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) upon seeing a newspaper ad telling kids to call Santa. Its director of operations Col. Harry Shoup was reportedly the one who answered the phone and directed his team to check the radar for indications of Santa in the skies. The tradition continued when NORAD was formed in 1958. Shoup was considered the organization’s first Santa tracker.
NORAD receives hundreds of thousands of e-mail and millions of calls from kids (and kids at heart) all over the world each year to ask for Santa’s whereabouts. More than a thousand volunteers man the phone lines of NORAD to accept calls but this year, because of the pandemic, a limited number of volunteers are answering the calls of those who wish to know where Santa’s exact location is.
One may also visit its website noradsanta.org to track Santa. Last year, almost nine million people visited the site that features a Christmas Village that has a gift shop, holiday games, library, theater, and elves who are busy delivering mail, ice-skating, building a snowman, and more.
Santa’s playlist of his favorite songs like Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night and Santa Claus is Coming to Town is also available for visitors to enjoy.
Also hear Santa’s whereabouts through Amazon’s Alexa, which gets information from NORAD Tracks Santa.
To get updates on Santa’s whereabouts, visit noradsanta.org, follow @NoradSanta on Twitter, call 1877-4466723 on Christmas Eve, or download the NORAD Tracks Santa app from the Apple Store and Google Play.
Google Santa Tracker
Every year, Google’s colorful and elaborate Christmas village is up during the holiday season.
While waiting for Santa to take his flight, one can enjoy the site with its games, videos, stories and fun educational materials including coding basics and Christmas traditions around the world. Some of the site’s features are available throughout the year.
Google’s Santa Tracker, which started in 2004, also gives information on how many presents has Santa delivered so far, the weather in his current location and how long until he reaches one’s location.
When Santa reaches a particular city, the first few paragraphs of a Wikipedia article about the city is shown to give an overview about the city. The temperature of the city is also shown with data coming from The Weather Channel.
Tracking Santa is also integrated in Google Assistant for real-time updates. One may also download the Google Santa Tracker app on Google Play.
To track Santa’s real-time location, visit santatracker.google.com.