Track Santa!

Click picture to go to NORAD's site
Click picture to go to NORAD’s site

Originally published December 2013


If that’s you as Christmas approaches, know that you are not alone in your unbridled exuberance. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, starts tracking Santa TONIGHT!


Using satellites, radar, fighter jets, and SantaCams, you can see where in the world Santa Claus is and have a better chance of catching a glimpse of him when he drops down the chimney into your house.

NORAD Tracks Santa

This has become an annual tradition for millions of people since it began, somewhat by accident, in the 1950s. If you visit the NORAD HQ section of the above website, you’ll find the fascinating story of this holiday treat there. Here’s an excerpt:

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

NORAD and its volunteers have outdone themselves this year by creating an absolutely fantastic website. Besides being able to track Santa, there are games, movies, music, historical information, Secret Santa Files, and a Holiday Hub where you can see some of the CUTEST pet holiday photos, Santa sightings, and other fun stuff. You can view the site in eight different languages and explore the North Pole from the comfort of your couch cushions.

While as a Christian I wish we could get people as excited about Jesus as they are about Santa Claus, given His infinite power, glory, and ability to change lives, I still enjoy our holiday traditions. Christmas in America is a strange mash-up of cultures and beliefs, with a benevolent old guy in a fuzzy red suit sharing the spotlight with the Promised Messiah while we drape trees in decorations like the Romans and Egyptians did…

In 350 AD Pope Julius I declared December 25th as Jesus’ birthday, which was traditionally the date of the pagan festival Saturnalia (in honor of the “god” Saturn)… and yet Jesus was most likely born in the April through October range (in 4 to 6 B.C, even). See Star of Wonder. Santa Claus– St. Nicholas at least– was born March 15th in Turkey…  to boot, as Rickie Lee Jones said, for the most part, people use God as Santa Claus. See how convoluted things have gotten?

Then we feel like we have to buy people things they don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like (to paraphrase Adrian Rogers)… in an attempt to imitate the giving of the Magi and St. Nick. Thankfully many people give generously to those in need at this time of year as well… but we can easily lose the true spirit of Christmas thanks to the plastic pushing marketing gods. 

In the midst of our hectic holiday schedules and multitude of traditions, tracking Santa can be a welcome diversion. Whether you find following Santa’s route as exhilarating as this guy (below) or not, NORAD’s Santa Tracker is also an opportunity to learn more about how NORAD protects us feverishly festive Americans and our convivial Canadian cousins.

Enjoy, and hey, happy Festivus!

SANTA!! I know him!!


Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it. -Richard Lamm


©2013 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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