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20 December 2001 Edition

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Surfin' with Santa

Have you ever wondered how to measure if you have been naughty or nice? Can you name all of Santa's reindeers. Do you want to email Santa? Or maybe you are finding it difficult to get that Christmas cheer going? Well wonder no more, Christmas cheer and much much more is out there on the world wide web from the naughty and nice to the twisted and perverted. ROBBIE MacGABHANN surfs over 9 million Christmas web pages with Santa in cyberland, where the snow is always crisp and white, where Rudolph and the elves are only a few clicks away.

It makes sense to think that Santa would have an Internet presence, because he is everywhere stupid!. What you don't expect is how big it is and how many of Santa's little helpers there are out there on the web. It seems that there is no aspect of Santa's life that doesn't have a web page. One search using Google yielded over 9 million web pages with Christmas information. There are an awful lot of people who either have a lot of free time on their hands or are taking Christmas way too seriously.

Then there are those who I think won't be getting much in the sock over the fireplace this year, because Santa is watching and he does know who has been naughty or nice. We don't need to know about Santa's sex life, please.


I always knew there were doubters out there who not only didn't believe in Santa, but what I didn't know was that they were actively trying to subvert Santa's work. Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy are two culprits who, using an article from Spy Magazine, debate the existence of Santa.

An example of their so called scientific investigation is that "there are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each."

Joel and Bruce then conclude that, "Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc."

Joel and Bruce conclude that, "Santa is dead". Something tells me that these two boys were the kind of people that as children made their parents lives miserable and no doubt spent a lot of their school days being wedgied. Remember, Santa doesn't like smart asses.


Based on flight profile configuration data gathered from 40 years of NORAD's radar and satellite tracking of Santa Claus, the scientists have concluded that Santa probably stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds
Yes, Santa has email, and there are literally hundreds of websites offering you almost instant responses from Mr Claus. At santaclausonline you can join the Elf club.

The International Inquirer web site has a substantial investigation into Santa, his alleged drinking habits and believe it or not his supposed connection with Monica Lewinsky! Yes there is no level to which these people will not stoop. More empty stockings I think.

Amid all the Santa surfing, there's a lot of people trying to take advantage of the commercial opportunities they see from Christmas. At you can find tree growers and sellers in your county, whether you are looking for a Norway Spruce or a Nordmann Fir, Noble Fir or a Lodge Pole Pine, one vendor offers free mistletoe free with every order. You can even view the tree types online.

Funny all the trees on this site are beautifully full, straight, very different from the deformed and sad offerings you have to buy at the side of the road every Christmas. You see, Christmas is better on the web. offered a range of Christmas poems which can be emailed to you within 60 seconds of paying $25 online. I would love to meet just one of the sad people who actually bought a service from this site.

[email protected] has a basic but usable site. You can email Santa and listen to a Christmas story from one Eddie Lenihan, whom we are reliably informed is one of Clare's greatest storytellers, plus there are nine Christmas carols sung by different primary schools in Ennis if you have an audio player. offers readers details on every variation of Christmas fare. They even have a guide for how to have a vegetarian Christmas. Christmas grub is taken fairly seriously here with details on all meals and snacks. You mean you didn't know it was possible to have a Christmas breakfast?


If you are indulging in some yuletide surfing, try our who are "striving to create the best Christmas site in the world". Yes you've guessed it, they are Americans. Only Yanks have this obsession with 'best in the world', while many of us unworldly paddies just want to win the odd All-Ireland now and again. Tommy Lyons you are on formal notice.

The site also tells us that their official Christmas charity is to raise money for Operation, which is in aid of the 680,000 Americans who have lost their job since September 11. The site is impressive and well laid out. You can get information on how Christmas is celebrated all over the world with a handy interactive globe map.

The acid test for these sites is to start with something you know and's "specialist" writer Bill Egan is on hand to tell us how Christmas is celebrated in Ireland.

Bill tells us that, " Candles, decorated with greenery, are placed in the windows of Irish homes on Christmas Eve to light the way of the Holy Family as well as any other poor travellers out on such a night. During the British occupation of all of Ireland, three candles were placed in the window at Christmas. One for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. Fellow Catholics passing by would know that the house was a Catholic home, and that all friends were welcome there to celebrate Christmas".

You might also be surprised to hear that "to the Irish, Christmas is a time for religious celebration rather than revelry. A manger scene is displayed in most homes and there are few Christmas trees. The one festive note that is struck is in the special pudding that caps the meal."


One of the more information filled and fairly strange Christmas sites is, which offers visitors the chance to have a 'holy Christmas' and yes, there is lots of religious content. However, there is also a lot more cool stuff here that is worth spending a while looking at, particularly the bits that deal with Christmas myths and legends.

So we can conclusively state that there are no Japanese department stores with a smiling Santa nailed to a cross, or that the suicide rate doesn't rise during the Christmas. It is true that Christmas cards were first sent in 1843 and that Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer was created for the Montgomery Ward department store. Is nothing sacred?

Other things I learnt from this site are that "Evergreens are symbolic of enduring and renewed life, which is why we decorate our homes with them at Christmastime", and that, "the doors of a home used to be flung open at midnight on Christmas Eve to let out any trapped evil spirits."

So how do you say Christmas in Basque? Well it is "Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!" according to this Christmas site. I stand to be corrected.


If you want to get to the tacky, try This is a site dedicated to the annual Hollywood Christmas parade, who's Grand Marshal this year was Peter Fonda. Apparently there have been Christmas parades in Hollywood since 1928 as an attempt to get shoppers onto Hollywood Boulevard. This web site can give you intricate details of the 100 plus celebrities who attended the parade. You have been warned.

Believe it or not, there are still some people who believe that Christmas has something to do with religion and a lot of them are on the web. is one of these sites and is run by a James Cooper. His site also offers links to the Totterridge Road Baptist Church.

This site should be approached with caution. It makes open reference to the work of Garth Brooks. For example, James tells us that "I hope that this site will bring all the aspects of Christmas together and, as Garth Brooks says in the notes on his Christmas Album, 'brings the feelings God intended to be felt at Christmas and beyond the season." Help.

One for the children is where you can find out your naughty or nice rating. People in the US can avail of the bargain offer of four phone calls from Santa for $4.95. Santa will tell you how close he is to your house.


The site that stands out for being weird and strange, in a bizarre way, is At first look it is yet another of the well-laid out sites about Christmas with nice graphics and text about how Santa does exist. Then you realise that Norad is the North American Aerospace Defence Command. Its job is to provide, "warning of missile and air attack against both of its member nations" while also ensuring that it safeguards "the air sovereignty of North America, and provides air defense forces for defense against an air attack".

So what have NORAD got to do with Santa? Its obvious, isn't it? Norad's radar can track Santa as he brings toys around the world.

NORAD scientists also believe they have discovered how Santa gets down the chimneys. They say that, "based on flight profile configuration data gathered from 40 years of NORAD's radar and satellite tracking of Santa Claus, the scientists have concluded that Santa probably stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds. From fighter aircraft cockpit photos that NORAD has occasionally been able to take of Santa over the years, we know he has a generous girth (belly), rosy cheeks from sleigh riding in cold weather, and a flowing white beard and hair. Santa does not appear to age. A photo taken in 1959 appears to be almost identical to an image taken recently. New this year, NORAD has set some special high tech cameras to show Santa on some rooftops as he delivers his toys." There you have one of the few hidden benefits of the nuclear arms race. is an excellent site if you have a media player and a relatively fast internet connection. It allows you to see a live Internet TV broadcast from Santa's office everyday. There are a lot of other sites like this and they are mostly worth a look.


Did you realise that the words Satan and Santa have the same letters. Personally this has passed me by over the years, but in web society this is the subject of much discussion and conspiracy formulation, and some good humour.

Not really printable, but worth a look is the spoof site run by the Landover Baptist Church (

A more serious religious view of Santa is offered at Theologic tell us that "Santa may have his good points, but he has become our society's way of keeping a happy winter holiday without facing up to the reality of Christ". This though is in complete contrast to South Park's Spirit of Christmas video, which I am still trying to download. It is definitely worth a look.

Then there is the Reindeer Liberation Front who are, "a band of committed freedom fighters, dedicated to the liberation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and all his furry companions from under the oppressive yoke of Santa Claus." offers you a chance to live a day in the life of Santa, which is a fairly bizarre cartoon strip. But the last word goes to the weird people at These santacrists, as they like to call themselves, dress up in Santa suits and do all sorts of unsanta like things.

So, if you want to find out if you really are naughty, or just want to send an e-card, celebrate a Victorian Christmas, discover the recipe for the perfect Egg Nog, the World Wide Web has become the repository of all this useless knowledge. Now go try it yourself, Santa is surfin'.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
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