On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus does the impossible – he delivers presents to millions of children worldwide. Saint Nick does this year after year flawlessly, a remarkable feat in every sense. Think about it: he has to maintain a list of good children worldwide. Also, he has to ensure they receive his presents before they wake up. Doesn’t all this make you wonder about Santa’s route around the world?
Today, let’s learn more about Santa’s travel plans for Christmas Eve. Also, there’s an interesting story about how everyone knows where Santa is during this day of happiness.
Where Does Santa Go First?
Everyone knows one thing for sure – Santa lives in the North Pole. But where does Santa go first after leaving his house? He starts his journey from the International Date Line. It is an imaginary line from the North to the South and divides Earth into two halves. When you cross this line, there is a change in the calendar day. He starts from this location as it gives him adequate time to cover the entire world before children wake up.
To ensure he doesn’t waste precious seconds, he goes to the South Pacific, i.e., west of the International Date Line. After he covers this region, he moves towards New Zealand before visiting Australia.
Once he moves across this continent, he makes a quick stop in Japan before covering the rest of Asia.
He gives gifts to children in Africa and then sets his sights on Western Europe. By moving in this manner, he covers several continents quickly.
For the final stretch, he takes his sleigh and trustworthy reindeer to Canada first and then the United States. He has to make a pit stop in Mexico, after which he flies to Central and South America.
This is his general route for showering the world with gifts. However, he can’t always follow this path if the weather conditions are harsh.
How Does the NORAD Santa Tracker Work?
How do people know that Santa usually takes the route described above? The credit goes to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year, they put in significant effort to know more about Santa’s whereabouts during Christmas Eve. So, how does the NORAD Santa Tracker work?
Well, NORAD uses its sophisticated layered defense system. To put it simply, it is a network of multiple tracking systems.
When Santa leaves the North Pole, he appears in NORAD’s North Warning System. This extensive network consists of 39 short-range and 15 long-range radars.
Once he reaches the eastern hemisphere, NORAD switches to a different tracking system. They use their satellites, which are orbiting the Earth from space. But wait, if these devices are outside the planet, how do they follow Santa in real-time? Well, NORAD keeps them in geosynchronous orbit. It is a position in space where the satellites can keep up with the planet’s rotation.
These satellites have infrared sensors, which help them detect heat. This makes it easy to track Rudolph, who is taking Santa from the Eastern to the Western hemisphere.
Once Father Christmas reaches Newfoundland, a Canadian province, he gets support from the country’s air force. They will guide him to the United States and let the American air force assist him.
From Alaska onwards, American pilots escort him across the country. He appears in NORAD’s systems while he flies through. The satellites in Earth’s orbit again start to track his movements with infrared sensors.
NORAD continues to follow him as he flies through Mexico. He makes multiple stops in Central and South America before finally landing in the North Pole. By the time he reaches home, it is the end of Christmas Eve.
How Did NORAD Start Tracking Santa?
First of all, how did NORAD start tracking Santa? After all, NORAD is responsible for monitoring North America’s aerospace and keeping it safe. The origins of NORAD’s interest in Santa go back to 1955.
There was an advertisement by Sears, an American department store, in The Gazette. The ad asked children to call a specific number to contact Santa Claus.
A child who came across this advertisement dialed the number. However, due to a print mistake in the ad, she accidentally called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) unlisted number.
The Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup monitored the phone at CONAD’s operation center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He understood the child didn’t call him on purpose, so he jumped into action immediately. The colonel informed the child that he would ensure Santa Claus was safe while delivering gifts worldwide. This was on November 30, 1955, well before Christmas Eve.
After a few weeks, Shoup’s team used a flying Santa to monitor unidentified aircraft. This gave the colonel ideas, and he contacted Colonel Barney Oldfield, the public relations officer. He wanted the media to know that CONAD used its state-of-the-art technologies to track Father Christmas.
Next year, he didn’t plan on doing the same. However, he changed his mind after learning that the Associated Press and United Press International were waiting for him. They were checking to see if he would announce that CONAD was tracking Mr. Claus.
Without missing a beat, he made the announcement, which was the beginning of the Christmas holiday tradition.
After NORAD took over CONAD’s responsibilities, they started tracking and reporting Santa’s movement to the world.
This holiday tradition continues today, and you can even use NORAD’s tracker. However, you must wait until December 1 for the website to become active.
How Much Does Norad Santa Tracker Cost?
In 2014, NORAD’s Santa Tracker received 20 million visitors. Also, they have a dedicated hotline where people can call to get updates about Father Christmas’s location. This makes you wonder – how much does NORAD Santa Tracker cost? Well, it is free for anyone, regardless of location.
But, if you want to know how much it costs to run the entire tracking system, it’s a complex answer. The aerospace defense organization has to run a dedicated website and hotline.
In 2019 alone, the website received 8.9 million visitors. NORAD also gets over 100,000 calls and 12,000 emails from people worldwide. The aerospace defense organization asks volunteers to help handle this workload. They use military personnel to answer queries from children and parents. They also rely on civilians to assist during this busy period.
The organization takes the calls and provides people with real-time updates about Santa’s location.
Running an operation this extensive will be an expensive affair. However, the defense organization doesn’t have to worry about costs, thanks to sponsorships from various corporations. In 2022, the following corporates financed the Santa Tracker:
- American Systems
- Association of the United States Army
- CrossCountry Mortgage
- Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC
- DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs
- Lockheed Martin
- Sam’s Club
- Swire Coca-Cola
- Task Force Mortgage Team
Are There Other Trackers To Follow Santa During Christmas Eve?
You can also use Google’s Santa Tracker to follow Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. You need to visit Santa’s Village on December 24 to see where Mr. Claus is.
What if you check out this website before Christmas Eve? Well, the platform hosts several educational games to teach children various skills. For instance, there is a coding game where people can learn the fundamentals.
Did you know that Christmas looks different depending on the region? Google shows the differences in how people celebrate this festival through multiple games. There are also games to help develop skills like building, painting, and drawing.
Google also has other features to make the experience interactive. If you have Google Assistant, you can use it to get information about Santa during the holiday season.
You can also use NORAD’s Santa Tracker on your smartphone. Like the website, monitoring Father Christmas’s journey starts on Christmas Eve. However, there are plenty of games to play every day from December 1st to the 25th.
Show Santa’s Route Around the World With Mapize
If you want to make a custom interactive map of Santa’s route, you should use Mapize. It offers several features to help you with this task.
You can plot all the locations Santa will visit and display them on your custom map. You can provide real-time updates about his location with this service.
You don’t have to use the default pin icon when you place a marker to show Santa’s next destination. Instead, you can swap it with a Christmas-themed icon, like Father Christmas’s face or the Christmas Tree. Other options include the ability to change the colors of the map to match the holiday season.
This service isn’t only for professional cartographers; anyone can use it easily. You can print the custom map and put it on display. Or, embed it in your website to show people your new tracker. Mapize’s interface is similar to Google Maps, which means you’ll feel right at home using this service.
Use Mapize today to create a custom map of Santa’s route around the world online!