24 December 1955: Norad begins tracking Santa

On this day in 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command began tracking Santa Claus as he sped around the world delivering presents.

It's become something of a Christmas tradition. Every Christmas Eve and in to the early hours of Christmas morning, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) tracks Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and speeds around the world handing out presents to the children on his Nice List.

It all started with a misprinted telephone number in a regional US newspaper. In 1955, Sears placed an ad telling children they could call Santa at any time day or night, together with Santa's telephone number. Unfortunately, the number printed was that of the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs. The base's director of operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, took the first call. Instead of telling the caller they had a wrong number, he checked on his radar and informed them of Santa's whereabouts. He instructed his staff to do the same with any other calls, and the tradition was born.

In 1958, Canada and the US formed Norad, and the programme was taken over by them. Now, the operation is staffed by some 1,200 volunteers including, since 2009, Michelle Obama. In 2013, they answered 117,371 calls. From telephone calls and newspapers to TV, the internet and social media, the programme has kept up with the times. The action moved online in 1997. Now, anyone can log on and check on Saint Nick and pinpoint his location, or spy him on any of the Santa cams around the globe. In 2008, the programme joined Twitter and now boasts over 200,000 followers, while its Facebook page is approaching two million likes. 

And the official line on the existence of Santa? "Based on historical data and more than 50 years of Norad tracking information, we believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of children throughout the world."

Recommended

Will energy prices go down in 2023?
Personal finance

Will energy prices go down in 2023?

Wholesale gas prices are on a downward trajectory, but does this mean lower energy bills later this year?
27 Jan 2023
Best regular savings accounts – January 2023
Savings

Best regular savings accounts – January 2023

You can earn an attractive rate on the best regular savings accounts. We tell you the best on the market to take advantage of right now
27 Jan 2023
Equity release v downsizing – which is best?
Personal finance

Equity release v downsizing – which is best?

Equity release hit a record high in 2022. But is downsizing a better way to hold on to your money?
27 Jan 2023
Self-assessment tax returns: what you need to know about getting your tax bill right
Income tax

Self-assessment tax returns: what you need to know about getting your tax bill right

Understanding how self assessment works can help you ensure you pay the right amount of tax, as well as avoid penalties for missing the deadline.
27 Jan 2023

Most Popular

House prices could fall 30%. Should investors be worried about a repeat of 2008?
Investments

House prices could fall 30%. Should investors be worried about a repeat of 2008?

Some analysts are predicting that house prices could fall as much as 30%, which, when compared to the fact that prices have jumped 28% since April 201…
24 Jan 2023
When will interest rates go up?
UK Economy

When will interest rates go up?

New interest rates will be announced on 2 February – we look at what to expect.
26 Jan 2023
Is the State Pension triple lock doomed to fail?
Pensions

Is the State Pension triple lock doomed to fail?

The State Pension triple lock guarantees an increase in the state pension every year, but this assumes government income grows every year as well, whi…
25 Jan 2023