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December, 2004 - Nr. 13


High-Tech Tree
The Editor
Season's Greetings
Reason for the Season
Frohe Festtage
Verschneites Land
Alle Jahre wieder...
Toronto Connection
Zurich Connection
From The Locker Room
Ottawa Valley Christmas
K-W & Beyond
Opera York Expands...
K-W Christkindl Market
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Santa House Calls
Bach's Manuscripts Disappear
Hospital in Germany

Sought-after Santa house calls booked quickly

   TWIG - Hundreds of aspiring Santas gathered in Berlin on Wednesday for costume inspection amid news that the agencies responsible for booking face time with Saint Nick are doing a brisk business.

Families in the German capital were rushing to reserve an appointment with Father Christmas early this year after an acute shortage of Santas last year forced many to handle yuletide duties without the benefit of professional help.

To understand the dire nature of that shortage, it helps to know that, unlike their mall-bound American counterparts, German Santas make house calls.

For nearly 50 years, students donning red suits and white beards have descended on German households just after dark on Christmas Eve, when presents are opened in Germany and across much of Europe.

Depending on advance arrangements, they come bearing presents and sometimes even the Christmas tree — enchanting kids and providing moms and dads with a brief moment of respite from Christmas Eve stress.

Last year, 800 Santas served more than 10,000 families in Berlin alone, according to figures from the placement agency responsible for ensuring the suitability of a would-be Saint Nick's costume and issuing him or her with an official ID card.

The job is demanding, with each Santa calling on an average of 12 families over the course of just four hours, normally between 3pm and 7pm.

In addition, responsibility weighs heavy on the shoulders of many a novice Santa.

"I wouldn't have thought that there was so much to bear in mind," first-timer Markus Schulz, 23, told the newsweekly Spiegel.

Helpfully, Santas are provided with orientation training by their agency employers.

There, they learn that jeans and tennis shoes are strictly prohibited and that mobile phones should be switched to quiet mode while on duty.

Other tips include inquiring about who has been naughty and nice well ahead of each visit as well as agreeing in advance on the number of packages to be carried.

In the interest of providing all their clients with timely and consistent service, Santas are also advised to limit poetry recitals to ten stanzas and to pass on the schnapps traditionally offered as a holiday toast.

Santas can earn upwards of 400 Eur ($530) over the course of four hours for their troubles — but they must provide their own costumes.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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