Does Santa exist?

The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas,...
Image via Wikipedia

There are probably no young children who read this blog, so I am sure the title is not a shock to you. I read a report recently which now proves that Santa can’t exist and it gives all the reasons.

Firstly reindeer can’t fly. But humans don’t know everything so there is a very very small chance that a flying reindeer exists, only we haven’t yet discovered it.

Secondly there are about 378,000,000 (378 million) Christian children in the world. If there are 3.5 children in each house then Santa needs to visit about 92,000,000 (92 million) homes. If Santa flies from east to west he has about 31 hours to deliver the gifts. This means he must visit about 800 homes every second. So he jumps down the chimney, puts a present in each stocking, eats a snack, and gets back up the chimney and into the sleigh in about 0.001 seconds. And Santa is overweight!

Thirdly there is the speed of Santa’s sleigh. Santa needs to travel about 1 hundred million (100,000,000) kilometres in 31 hours, which is a speed of about 1,000 kilometres every second. The fastest speed for any man-made vehicle is about 30 km per second (the Ulysees space probe), so this speed is much much faster than anything we now know.

Fourthly is the weight of the presents. If every child gets a small size present then the sleigh would have to carry about 300,000 tons, and would need about 200,000 reindeer to pull the sleigh. The total weight of the presents, the reindeer and of course Santa would be about the same as 4 cruise ships, and the amount of power needed to make this fly is too huge to calculate.

Lastly 300,000 tons travelling at 1,000 km per second would heat up the reindeer so quickly that they would catch fire and burn in about 0.004 seconds, and so would Santa.

So, if Santa exists, he is killed less than a second after his sleigh starts to move. I hope this doesn’t spoil your Christmas.

Santa 2

Most of us know that Santa Claus lives near the North Pole, probably somewhere in Finland, and every Christmas Eve he gets dressed in a bright red suit, jumps into a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and delivers gifts to all the children of the world, entering their house by the chimney.


1. Who was the original Santa?

2. Why does Santa wear red clothes?

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to No1, and I think I know the answer to No2.

Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas, who lived in Myra in southern Turkey in the 4th century. His name in German is Sankt Niklaus and his name in Dutch is Sinterklaas, so it’s easy to see how this changed to Santa Claus.

Not much is known about Saint Nicholas, except that he was a very kind and popular man who helped many people, especially the poor, and it is thought he also gave them gifts.

But no-one knows if he wore red clothes or had a white beard. I thought his red clothes started with Coca Cola commercials in the 1930s. For many years Coca Cola used Santa Claus as a character to help sell their drink. Since Santa was dressed in red, white and black it matched very well with the colours of the Coca Cola label.

It doesn’t seem a good idea to me. Can you imagine a company using Mother Theresa to advertise orange juice? I guess if Coca Cola used Santa to sell orange juice then his name would be changed to ‘Fanta Claus’!

But Santa was very successful at selling Coke, and many other companies used Santa to sell their products until the 1960s.

So the Coca Cola Corporation put Santa in red? No, I was wrong. There are many Santa pictures from well before this time which show Santa in a red and white suit, with a black belt.


The picture above is by Thomas Nast in 1869 (before Coca Cola was invented), and it is thought that he was the first person to dress Santa in red.


This picture was drawn in 1908 by E Boyd Smith and shows Santa in the same suit as we see him now, and with a very long white beard.

But all this happened in the USA. The rest of the world got to see Santa in a bright red suit when they saw all the Coca Cola commercials. So, even though the artist Thomas Nast gave Santa his first red suit, we can be pretty certain that the Coca Cola commercials made sure that Santa will always be in red.


How did St Nicholas become Santa?

In a comment (Who is Santa?) Kouta asks a very good question: how did Saint Nicholas become Santa?

Not much is known about Saint Nicholas. It is not known when he was born, though it is believed that he died on December 6th 342, living most of his life in a city called Myra in southern Turkey. Here is a picture of him, but it was drawn a long time after his death.


Saint Nicholas must have been a very popular person. Centuries after his death people were still telling stories about him, and it is these stories that we hear today. Are the stories true? Maybe, maybe not, but Saint Nicholas was surely a very good and kind person, since so many people happily remembered him.

One story is about three sisters who were very poor, and their parents didn’t have enough money for the daughters to get married (every girl needed money to pay for the wedding and a new house). Nicholas heard about this and secretly tried to help the sisters. So he climbed on the roof and threw three bags of gold money down the chimney. By chance one of the bags fell into a stocking that one of the girls had hung to dry. But the father saw Nicholas and told everyone, and Nicholas was greatly loved. From this time it is said that Nicholas started to walk along the streets on Christmas Eve giving presents to all good children.

These are some of the things that Santa Claus does today.

Whether this story is true or not no-one really knows. History and legend often mix together and I guess that has happened in this case. Nevertheless Saint Nicholas is one of the most loved of Christian saints; there are more than 1,200 churches named St Nicholas’ Church, and his feast day on December 6th is still celebrated by many Christians.