Some speculate that with at least seven countries claiming Santa, he must have homes all over the world. Others are of the view that there may be a lot of posers out there, but only one winner.
People of the Mora locality in Sweden (where Santa is known as Jultomten) insist that Santa lives deep in the woods near the Gesunda mountains. They are so certain of this that there’s even a theme park, Santaworld, in the area where you can actually meet the jolly man. This park also features Santa’s elves, reindeer and lots of Christmas-themed events and attractions. Do note that this isn’t a Disney-style theme park – it’s more experiential. And if you ask Santa if he really lives here, he’ll give you a pretty convincing argument as to why the answer is yes!
Another contender – and a strong one, at that – is Napapiiri, Finland, located above the Arctic Circle. Here, you’ll find the Santa Claus Village, which claims to be Santa’s official home. Santa, known as Joulupukki in Finland, is at this village every day of the year (except, presumably, during Christmas when he’s out delivering presents). This secret abode was revealed during a popular Finnish radio programme for kids by Uncle Markus. The host explained that the real dwelling of Santa is Korvatunturi, a nearby mountain that looks like a set of huge rabbit ears. Apparently, these ears are used by the elves to listen to children all over the world!
North Pole, Alaska is so sure it’s the true residence of Santa that it is Christmas all the time in this small town. Even the street names are Christmas themed: Santa Claus Lane, St Nicholas Drive, and Snowman Lane are just a few examples. You can also check out the world’s largest fibre glass Santa here, as well as a great shop where you can meet Santa and fulfill all your Christmas decoration needs in one place! This is also where the US Postal Service sends hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Answering these letters has become something of a cottage industry in the town.
Speaking of North America, Canada is also in the running to be considered the real home of Santa, so much so that the country has assigned the postal code H0H 0H0 (Ho! Ho! Ho!) to the North Pole. This is where letters to Santa are sent. The country’s citizenship minister once even extended citizenship to Santa, although it’s unclear if that was to confirm Santa’s citizenship or simply out of courtesy.
Other claimants include Drobak, Norway, where Santa allegedly built a Christmas House (Julehuset) right next to the town’s main square; North Pole, New York, home to a very busy workshop that the village folk claim is Santa’s own ( for what it’s worth, there is a 96% chance of snow here every holiday season); and Kongsgården, Greenland, which is where children from both Greenland and Denmark believe Santa lives (although the exact location of his house is a secret).
And then there’s Myra, Turkey – now known as Demre – where Saint Nicholas was born. Earlier this year, Turkish archaeologists discovered what they think is the tomb of the original Saint Nicholas, who is believed to have lived in the 4th century and was known for his generosity, particularly to children, as well as his humility.
So it seems Santa was born in Turkey and, as his legend spread, everyone wanted to claim the beloved figure as their own. Just FYI: it was the Dutch who started using the term Sinterklaas, which is where Santa Claus comes from.
All we know for certain is this – if you’re a believer, Santa will live in your heart, spreading kindness and good cheer all the time.
And if you’re keen to go on a Santa pilgrimage, this handy map will help you find your way.