Saturday, 20 December 2008


St Nicholas (also known as Father Christmas or Santa Claus) is well known around the peninsula and the world for his magical work in delivering toys to girls and boys at Christmas. Originally from Myra (now known as Turkey) he became a priest at the tender age of 17 and became renowned for giving poor children gifts. He eventually relocated to Lapland and set up his workshop with his elves to create all the toys for good children. December is his busy month and he is in much demand making public appearances in local communities throughout the world and it is part of his charm that he can manage to fit in so many dates. Some of you may have seen him at the Isle of Doagh or at Willowhill Lapland and of course he has made appearances throughout the peninsula; in Carrowmenagh, Muff, Buncrana, Redcastle and Greencastle to name just a few. “I can’t turn down a request for a public appearance,” he confides. “I know it means so much to all the girls and boys.”

Do you prefer being called Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or Santa Claus?
I love all of my names. In Brazil I am called Papai Noel, in Holland, it is De Kerstman. In India, the children call me Baba, in Poland I am Swiety Mikolaj and in Lithuania it is Kaledu Senelis. The only thing I don’t like being called is late for my tea..HoHo Ho!

What is with the gear?
In the old days I used to wear Bishop’s robes but when I moved to Lapland I decided I needed a bit more warmth so I went for the fur trim. Sometimes I wore green, but I usually wear the red and white clothing now. The new robe is very easily spotted and its what’s expected of me and of course I like to fulfil people expectations –it goes with the job description.

What should you never worry about?
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.

Favourite animal?
I love my reindeer, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and of course Rudolph. Did you know he has a red nose? They never complain and it is a long night for them too. They are great company during the year too.

Any suggestions what to give people for Christmas presents?

To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. and to yourself, respect……
Most people want Wii’s or dolls though and that is ok too-Wii’s are great fun and dolls can encourage love.

Why did you leave the North Pole?
Do you mean the bar in Drumfries, I had to leave because it was closing time…. Oh the Real North Pole…..I left there in 1925 as it was impossible to feed the reindeer. Grazing reindeer get through an awful lot of grass and there just isn’t any at the North Pole. I moved to Finnish Lapland, there’s more for them to eat there and it’s handier for me to get around the world.

What is the name of your wife and when did you marry?
Mrs. Claus…she is shy and just wants to be called Mrs Claus. You would have first heard from her back in 1889. We tied the knot and got the poet Katherine Lee Bates to write about Mary… sorry Mrs Claus in the book Goody Santa Claus On A Sleigh Ride.

What’s that book about then?
In the story, Mrs. Claus pleads with me to take her along on the annual Christmas Eve sleigh ride to deliver toys to all the good little boys and girls. She reminds me that she has worked hard all year long raising perfect sweetie trees and deserves a chance to participate in the fun. I finally agree, and Mrs. Claus’s skills come in quite handy. When I find one little boy’s stocking that is too tattered to hold presents, Mrs. Claus pops down the chimney and mends the stocking, saving the day. I am a bit of a whiz when it comes to making toys, but I am not very handy with a needle. That’s not sexist is it?

What was your least well-received gift?
I always try to match the presents to the needs of the individual. There was the time I gave 30 bin liner bags to a husband. He was puzzled and more so when he discovered that his wife had also very generously hired a skip for him. He was quite relieved as he thought it was a hint for him to leave…. it was only time to clear out the attic though.

What music do you like?
I quite like Alleluia by Alexandra Burke, the winner of this year X Factor, although you can’t beat the original Leonard Cohen version, after saying that, the Jeff Buckley is excellent as well.

How do you get to be in so many places at one time?
I don’t know myself really but it is something to do with me living my life in a different time dimension to that mortals. One day for me is like a year for you and I don’t wake up until November (although it’s getting earlier every year) to check on the vertically challenged members of staff (also known as elves)….The rest, as they say, is magic……..

What would you never throw away?
I would never throw away all of the lovely letters from children around the world, especially those from Inishowen, the children here are very special to me…

What famous people would you invite around for dinner and why?
The tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Nelson Mandela. Maybe Peter Kay too for a bit of Ho, Ho, Ho-ing.

What do you have for breakfast?
Mistle-“toast” and Jingle Jam.

What’s your ideal gift?
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision, Each group of people, every religion;Every ethnicity, every hue, Everyone, everywhere...even you. So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth... May you and your loved ones, enjoy peace on Earth.

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