Thanks to social media, the internet, and the North American Airspace Defense Command (NORAD), it’s now possible to use the phone in your pocket and the tablet next to your bed to track Father Christmas as he makes his annual present delivery on Christmas Eve.
The app is called NORAD Santa, and it’s available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. It’s brilliant: you can see a countdown to when Father Christmas launches his sleigh, read up on his background, discover more about his history and NORAD’s contact with him over the years through their advanced tracking technologies and discover more about the Christmas traditions of various countries around the world. It’s kid-friendly, and stuffed with all kinds of fascinating nuggets that parents and kids can discover together.
If that’s not high-tech enough for you, you can also follow Father Christmas on Twitter by searching for the handle @NoradSanta and get live updates on what the big guy is up to.
If you’re not a big fan of apps or Twitter, you can always visit the official NORAD/FC website, where all kinds of activities await you. You can play games (some of which are genuinely fun like the Tree LightUp puzzler that has you ensuring power gets to the many lights on a Christmas tree), listen to Father Christmas’s favourite holiday songs and read more about him in Santa’s Village Library.
All of this was made possible by a mis-print in a 1955 Sears advert in a Colorado Springs newspaper, where the company accidentally gave out a number they said was “Santa’s” that kids could call, but it was actually a top-secret CONAD (what NORAD was called before 1958) emergency number. When kids started calling, the officer that picked up played along, leading to a 58-year-old tradition where NORAD does everything from fielding calls and emails about Father Christmas, to tracking his whereabouts to hosting the website, Twitter account and app mentioned above.
If you’d like to read more about it, check out TheAtlantic.com’s in-depth story about that fateful day.
Oh, and Merry Christmas, htxt.africa readers! May your holidays be safe, fun, and full of tech!