Naughty kids, green Santa suits and fermented ant droppings...
With Christmas quickly approaching, this week I've compiled a list of six Santa themed ‘facts’ to test people on how sharp they are at spotting a bluff and how astute they are at recognising the truth. Just to clarify, some of these Santa ‘facts’ are true but others are entirely made up.
|Santa Claus pictured with a strange child-sized object in his sack.|
Fact 1 - Swiss Santa's helper kidnaps naughty kids in his sack.
In the UK and many other countries parents often scare their kids into behaving in the run-up to Christmas by telling them that if they’re naughty then Santa won’t bring them any presents. While you could say this was a slightly cruel lie to tell kids, in Switzerland they take things one step further by telling kids that if they are naughty Santa's helper 'Schmutzli' will kidnap them by putting them into his sack and then carrying them off into the woods.
True or false?
Fact 2 - Santa has his own post code.
Every Christmas the UK Royal Mail get so many letters to Santa that they have even allocated Santa his very own post code (SAN TA1). In Canada, Canada Post have likewise given Santa his own post code (H0H 0H0), inspired by Santa’s trademark saying ‘Ho Ho Ho’. In the United States, the US postal service have also got into the spirit of things by giving Santa his own post (zip) code. It’s 99705.
True or false?
|A considerate letter to Santa.|
Fact 3 - Girls write more considerate letters to Santa than boys.
An analysis of letters written to Santa Claus at Christmas revealed that girls are more likely to ask for gifts for other people, whereas when boys write to Santa they are more likely to just think selfishly and ask for presents for themselves.
Hmm, surely this one can't be true!?
True or false?
Fact 4 - Kids angry at parents over Santa.
In a 2010 survey of over 1000 kids who had recently discovered that Santa Claus wasn’t real, 32% expressed ‘slight anger’ at discovering their parents had lied to them about Santa, while 17% expressed ‘strong anger’. A massive 54% expressed a ‘profound lack of trust’ that their parents had lied to them, although presumably they must have had to ask the survey people what the word ‘profound’ meant, as I doubt I would have known what profound meant at that age.
True or false?
|Green Santa from the olden days considers a new look...|
Fact 5 - Coca Cola created the red Santa suit.
Until the 1930s Santa Claus used to wear a green suit and it was actually an advertising campaign by Coca Cola featuring Santa in a newly designed red costume which popularised Santa’s modern look.
The picture to the right shows how Santa used to look in his green suit, but was it Coca Cola who first dressed Santa in a red suit?
True or false?
Fact 6 - Treats for Santa from around the world.
In the UK, kids will traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk or sherry, and maybe a carrot for his reindeers. In Ireland it’s more traditional to leave Guinness or milk. However, on the South Pacific Island of Vati Malau, kids will traditionally leave ‘falahoki’ as a culinary treat for Santa. For those who aren’t genned up on Vati Malau cuisine, falahoki is ant droppings fermented in goat’s urine and then served on a base of raw snake flesh. So if I was Santa I think I would be hoping that there were a lot of naughty kids in Vati Malua who I didn’t have to visit!
True or false?
Scroll down the page to check out the answers and see how you did…
|Santa wearing an unnecessarily long Santa hat.|
Fact 1 - Swiss Santa's helper kidnaps naughty kids in his sack - TRUE
As shocking as it sounds, this is actually what some parents tell their kids in Switzerland. A backpacker mate of mine from Switzerland told me that one Christmas Eve when he was a kid he went missing and after a few hours his parents still couldn’t find him.
They were starting to get very worried until eventually they found him hiding in the cupboard under the stairs with a kitchen knife in his hand. It turned out that he was scared that Santa's helper was going to take him into the woods in his sack so he was hiding with the kitchen knife so that if he did get caught he would be able to cut himself out of the sack and run away.
Fact 2 - Santa has his own post code - TRUE
Santa does indeed have his own post code in the UK, Canada and the United States and these post codes are indeed SAN TA1, H0H 0H0 and 99705.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Santa has his own post code when you consider that in 2006, 750,000 letters were sent to Santa in the UK alone! The full address for anyone sending a letter to Santa in the UK is Santa Claus, Santa's Grotto, Reindeer Land, SAN TA1.
Please note, Santa is very busy in the run-up to Christmas so anyone wanting a reply from Santa before Christmas should write to him by 14th December at the latest. Also, please remember to include a 1st or 2nd class stamp with your letter as unfortunately due to the recent government austerity measures Santa has been forced to make cutbacks to his postal budget.
Fact 3 - Girls are more considerate than boys - TRUE
Apparently, girls are more considerate than boys when it comes to writing letters to Santa, although of course once boys get older they become far more considerate(!).
Fact 4 - Kids angry at parents over Santa - FALSE
Not surprisingly, given the unchildlike terminology which I used, kids didn’t express a profound lack of trust in their parents on discovering that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I just made that up. I did manage to find one survey on the subject, however, and in actual fact when Dr. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500 children he found that not a single child was angry at his or her parents for lying about Santa Claus being real.
I used to work with a woman who only had one question when she discovered from her older brother that Santa wasn’t real, "Will I still get my presents?" Once her brother had confirmed that her mam and dad bought her presents, her response was, "Ar, that’s okay, then." I think this probably sums up most kids' attitude. As long as we get our presents we don’t mind who gives us them!
Fact 5 - Coca Cola created the red Santa suit - FALSE
Santa Claus (and also his predecessor Father Christmas) did indeed originally wear a green suit, but this had been replaced by a red suit long before the Coca Cola advertising campaign of the 1930s. One school in Brighton (presumably run by anti-capitalist types) refused to have a red suited Santa as they mistakenly believed that Coca Cola were the first to show Santa in a red suit, but Santa had in fact first been shown in a red suit as far back as the 19th century.
Fact 6 - Treats for Santa from around the world - FALSE
There’s actually no such island as Vati Malau. I just made it up. There’s also no such thing as falahoki, which I’m sure Santa will be very pleased to discover!
How did you do? Did I manage to fool you with any of my fake Santa 'facts' or were you on the ball and able to spot my bluffery?
That’s it for now but I’ll be featuring more Christmas themed posts in the run-up to Christmas, so follow me on facebook and twitter to stay up-to-date:
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