Will you be sitting up this Christmas Eve, eagerly waiting for Santa to arrive? We all know that he manages to visit children across the globe in the course of a single night, bringing gifts and spreading Christmas joy all over the world. What if there was a way to track Santa's progress as he drives his sleigh from the North Pole?
When I was a child, I always knew that Santa wouldn't come until I was properly asleep. He always entered our house down the chimney, so we would leave some milk for the reindeer and a couple of mince pies and glass of something special for Santa himself. And in the morning, the first sign that Santa really had been there was that the milk and mince pies were gone - quickly followed by an unforgettable moment of wonder at the miracle of how he had done it.
While we know that only Santa has the power to achieve this magnificent feat, scientists have gradually found ways in which to map his journey - even if they can't keep up with it. Thanks to a string of long-range radar installations across the northern borders of North America, we can get an early warning of Santa's departure on his annual reindeer ride from his polar base.
Information on Santa's journey is made available by NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, who have been tracking Saint Nick since 1955 and began showing the program on the internet in 1998.
According to Norad's website, the tradition was sparked by a misprint in a newspaper advertisement run by a Colorado store that invited children to call Santa on a special line. The number accidentally connected callers to the Operations number at CONAD (the forerunner of NORAD). But luckily, the Director of Operations delighted his young callers by asking his personnel to watch radar signals for signs that Santa was indeed on his way. Since then, staff and special volunteers every year have monitored Santa's marvelous ride for the benefit of children and news outlets all over the world.
These days, eager Santa watchers can track his progress online at NORAD's website and in a variety of languages other than English, including French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese, starting at 2.00am in Colorado (MST) on December 24th - that's 4.00am Eastern and 9.00am GMT. There's also information about NORAD's history of tracking Santa, along with games, music and Christmas coloring pages.
So whether you call him Santa, Father Christmas, Nikolaus or Papa Noel, you'll be able to tell exactly when he and his reindeer set out on their Christmas travels. But for all the technological wizardry, you also know that he'll only come to your house when you're fast asleep!
Will you be decorating a Christmas tree to welcome Santa this year?
Visit All-Your.Info/Christmas-Trees for lots of great ideas for trees and Christmas tree tree decorations - and, of course, more information on how to track Santa !