It’s a far cry from Royal Mail’s letters to Santa (still going strong, in case you’re interested)… these days you can track Santa’s progress around the globe online. But are you a NORAD or a Google believer?
NORAD was the original Santa Tracker. It has its roots in a programme started in conjunction with the Sears department store in the US, initially with a team of volunteers manning the phones to take calls from children about Santa’s location. Since 1997, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has made it possible to view Santa’s progress over the internet as he travels the world on Christmas Eve delivering his presents to all the well-behaved children (and possibly some coal to those who aren’t!).
These days the website starts gearing up for the Santa tracking from the 1st of December and you can find a whole host of goodies on the site – explore the North Pole, open a door on the advent calendar of games to reveal a new game each day, play the NORAD tracks Santa trailer to whet your appetite for the 24th and even buy the tshirt!
From 2004 NORAD teamed up with Google to show Santa using Google Earth maps, but by 2013 Microsoft had muddied the waters by getting in on the action. NORAD now use Bing for the 2D mapping of Santa’s progress.
Google, meanwhile, has continued to develop its own in-house Santa tracking talent and now offers a rival Santa Tracker. I prefer the bright cheerful graphics, and there is some great interactive bits on the site designed to help kids learn about global geography and Christmas traditions around the world.
In reality Google is offering a similar content to the NORAD site, with a new element of Santa’s village in the North Pole offering something new each day, plus there’s an advent calendar of cool free stuff and the live Santa tracking on the 24th of course.
If I had to make a call, it would be in favour of Google, but I guess the most important thing is to pick one and then stick to it… otherwise there might be some tricky explaining to do come Christmas Eve and Santa is in two places at the same time… although NORAD does offer an explanation for this possibility on its Santa facts page.
The answer is obvious really, when it’s explained: Santa clearly operates within a different time-space continuum than we do.