Monday, 20 December 2010

Is Santa a Finn?

Some say Santa does not exist. Indeed, some people with too much time on their hands have even gone as far as to propose proof of this. They claim in particular that Santa’s reindeers would explode due to the velocity required of them to deliver parcels all across the globe on Christmas night.

This is all nonsense of course. Santa does exist: I have seen him with my own eyes in shopping malls all over the world. I have also seen him strip to his underpants at a “pikkujoulu” (office Christmas party) in Helsinki, but that’s another story.

Santa’s place of residence is also the subject of much debate. Americans believe Santa lives in the North Pole. That is evidently a ridiculous idea as there are no reindeer in the North Pole. Cleverly, Americans have tried to get around this by giving a town in Alaska the name “North Pole”, but we are not fooled by such a subterfuge.

It is a known fact that Santa actually lives in the suburbs of the small Finnish town of Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle. [Edit: actually, he lives in Korvatunturi, but that's his private residence whereas Rovaniemi is his official visiting address]

So could Santa actually be a Finn?

Let’s examine the evidence in favour of that theory:
  • He is a man of few words (“Ho-Ho-Ho!”)
  • He goes about the arduous task of delivering presents all over the world in just one night, without a moan or a grumble – a real demonstration of the Finnish “sisu” (perseverance in the face of adversity)
  • He is not sentimental about reindeer – he drives them hard (close to explosion, apparently, cf. above)
  • He has a penchant for silly facial hair
  • He travels all over the world, has been to every exotic island and beauty spot on the globe, but still thinks that there is no better place on Earth than Rovaniemi
This is all looking like a foregone conclusion, until we consider the outfit Santa wears: no Finnish man would choose to wear bright red and fluffy clothes. It’s just not what “real men” do.

But hold on: the outfit was actually designed by the Coca Cola company in 1931. Before that, Santa used to wear much more reasonable clothes. So in essence, this is a commercial arrangement, and Santa is just a pragmatist.

I rest my case.


  1. I've had some debate over this with my Danish friends. They very stubbornly announced that Santa lives in Greenland. It took me a lot of time to make them realise they're wrong. In the end, they were so frustrated they just "let me live in my fantasy world" as they very kindly told me I was doing. I wish I had these arguments then to back up my story. Though Santa doens't live in Rovaniemi, he just has his office there so people can come and visit easily. His real residence is somewhere in Korvatunturi, well hidden.

  2. Oh by the way, they guy who designed the Coke Santa back in the thirties was actually of Finnish decent:

  3. Just thought I should let you know a different point of view on the origins of the Finnish Santa. I am sure you know that we Finns call him "Joulupukki" which means Christmas goat. According to the story pagans used to have festivities to ward off evil spirits. In Finland these spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. It was an ugly creature and frightened children and didn't give presents but demanded them. No one really knows how this turned into the fat man in a red suit but unlike American Santa, the Finnish Joulupukki did not originate from Saint Nicholas. Also something interesting and related is the movie Rare Exports.