The politics of where Santa lives

2 12 2010
Baubels with map of the world

Where does Santa live?

As territorial disputes go it’s not quite up there with Alsace-Lorraine or Kashmir but a lot of people are very concerned about where Santa Claus lives. The reason for this is that being able to lay claim to be the official home of Father Christmas is a huge marketing and tourist device worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year, not to mention all the merchandising and film rights.

The general consensus is that he lives somewhere around the Arctic Circle and the North Pole is often mentioned as his home. The problem with this is there is no real north pole and even if there were it wouldn’t be a particularly hospitable tourist location. However, there is a real city of North Pole in Alaska which would make Santa an American citizen (who knew?). Far be it for me to suggest that the name was chosen as a marketing gimmick but they have played heavily on their Christmas association, with several large shops devoted to Christmas gifts and the world’s largest statue of Santa Claus.

Other contenders for the title include Drøbak in Norway, Greenland in several different towns and Rovaniemi in Finland. All have thriving tourist industries based on their association with Christmas which is worth massive amounts of money to them (not to mention providing employment for a lot of bearded men of a certain age). The debate over where Santa really lives has been going on for a long time now and has grown increasingly bitter in recent years. The obvious solution is to just accept that Santa has several homes all over the world and spends time at all of them in equal measure. The other less welcome way of solving the problem is to send it to the United Nations. Given their history of conflict resolution between different countries I’m sure they can deal with the simple problem of where Father Christmas officially lives. Perhaps each place could take it in turn in the same way they have an official city of culture? Personally I’m more concerned over the question of does he pay tax?

Dr Matthew Ashton
Senior lecturer in politics and the media
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