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SANTA CLAUS IS coming to town. In fact, he’s just arrived - just in time to assert his claim over the Orchard Road Christmas lights and banish Mickey & Friends right back to the Disney Store they came from.
Well, maybe not, but he is the real McCoy, flying into Singapore for the first time on Finnair all the way from Rovaniemi - the reindeer-shaped official hometown of Santa Claus in Lapland, right on the edge of the Arctic Circle. If it sounds like one of those places where you can spend your entire career dreaming of (and getting) a White Christmas and forget about everything else, it probably is, but rest assured that Santa is well aware of the affairs of the world. And he’s doing his best to bring some old fashioned goodwill and cheer, at a time when we could definitely use some.
So, Finnair had to fly you into Singapore. Did your sleigh break down? Were Rudolph and the other reindeer quarantined by Singapore’s AVA?
Ho Ho Ho! I like to meet people when travelling, so usually my travel designer elf helps to book my plane tickets. Flying Finnair also lets me deliver presents to homes faster. The reindeer are resting for the big day – y’know, the one later in December?
What does ‘official’ Santa Claus even mean? What does that say about the other Santa Clauses we’ve seen?
The ‘Santa spirit’ is one that lives on in everyone. I think being the official Father Christmas from Finland’s Santa Claus Foundation means that I embody those qualities and values more naturally.
If you’re the real Santa Claus, that makes you a really old employed person. What do you think about our ageist society where employers prefer to hire younger people? Have you ever retrenched any elves for being too old?
Age is just a number. It’s all about the type of work we do because people who have years of experience like I do, can share their wisdom with those who are a bit younger. Plus, did you know that elves live a lot longer than humans? As a result, an elf’s adult life is reached at the age of 200, and the age at which the elf is a baby usually lasts 20 years.
Going by how fast the world is progressing and the way technology is so prevalent in our lives, you should have been replaced by an app long ago.
Why are you still around?
There are things you can do with an app and things that you can’t. I still believe in the human touch. If you come to Rovaniemi, I’ll take you around and show you the true spirit of Christmas. I think people appreciate knowing that there’s always a happy place to come back to, and my home does just that.
What do you like best and least about your job?
Frankly, I love being able to share the spirit of giving back during Christmas with all. I love reading letters sent to me by children all around the world too. The planet has about seven billion people. Can you imagine the amount of Christmas cards and packages we send on Christmas? What I like the least – probably the fact that Christmas only comes once a year!
Tell us a bit about where you come from and how you and your elves go about keeping the magic of Christmas alive and well.
So Mrs Claus, the elves, my reindeer and I live at ear-mountain. Rovaniemi, on the other hand, is my hometown and the village is the most-known destination for people to come and meet me. At the Village, I have my cabin - we Finns call it ’Kammari’. When coming to the Village, visitors can send cards, ride in husky sleighs, and cross the magical Arctic Circle line.
Explain how you manage to be in so many homes delivering presents to homes with no chimneys all at the same time? Have you ever thought of replacing Rudolph and company with Grab/Uber drivers?
You don’t need a chimney to enter a house. I’m sure your house doesn’t have a chimney, never seemed to stop you from entering, did it? I doubt Grab or Uber drivers can get me around the way Rudolph and team can, although Finnair does the job pretty well too. Especially now that we take the fastest Northern route – it makes delivering presents a breeze.
Are you getting as much milk and cookies now as you used to? Are people more likely to offer you keto diet-friendly energy bars and kombucha instead?
I love my gingerbread cookies. They’re traditionally Finnish. Don’t try to offer me anything “xxx-free”. Doesn’t sit as well with my belly, and you wouldn’t want to be present-free this Christmas, would you?
If you had a LinkedIn account, what would your profile say?
“Santa Claus – The ambassador of goodwill keeping the Christmas spirit alive since the beginning of time.”
How long have you been a Santa Claus and what kind of training do you get? What are the qualifications required?
I don’t count years anymore because I’m over 300 years old. Qualifications, well, you have to be kind and polite, help whenever possible, take care of nature and the environment, just to name a few attributes.
Do you think Santa Claus has been unfairly maligned as the poster boy for commercialism, consumerism and weight management? Don’t you think that making a list of who’s naughty or nice isn’t much different from parents bribing kids to get good grades in school?
I don’t think so. I think the crux of being Santa is all about reinforcing the spirit of joy and happiness in people and helping, especially the weaker ones. I hope to be able to remind everyone of that. Everyone, after all, is a kid at heart, and regardless what we all do, fundamentally part of living a fulfilling life is to feel contentment. I do believe positive reinforcement is the way to go.
In this world full of hate and intolerance, where does Santa fit in?
I consider myself the neutralising party – the one that makes things better for everyone.
Is there only one Santa Claus, or is there a Santa in all of us?
I think the values of Santa are in all of us. It’s not an ideal world to be living in – but I do believe that inherently there’s good in everyone. As Santa, I feel it’s my job to reinforce and spread that message far and wide.
What’s the future for Santa Claus, in your opinion?
Spreading as much joy as possible to the people I meet, and the people who come to meet me. I like living and experiencing each day as it comes. I’ll tell you when we meet again!