A Christmas Eve Trip with the Scientific Santa Claus
The time and place that Santa Claus starts his Christmas Eve trip around the world delivering gifts is different every year, every century, every millennium. Santa Claus is not new to time travel and time travel is not new to Santa Claus. Scientists like Albert Einstein, Clifford Pickover, and Carl Sagan believe that time travel is possible, even probable. Santa has time traveled for centuries.
Centuries ago, the scientific Santa Claus materialized in the minds and imaginations of people in lands like Turkey and Finland as a combination of a kaleidoscope of legends and mythical creatures. Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna lived in the 4th century A.D. in what is 21st century Turkey. He expressed his love for children by giving them gifts, often throwing them in through the windows of their houses. In later years, the Orthodox Church made Nicholas a saint and built Russia’s oldest church in his honor. The Roman Catholic Church also honored Nicholas and he became the patron saint of children and mariners, with December 6th as his name day.
Santa‘s Fame and Santa Himself Travel Around the World
As his influence spread around the world with the speed of light 186,000 miles per second, St. Nicholas came to be known by many other names. In Germany he answered to der Weinachtsmann. The English called him Father Christmas and when he came to the United States with Dutch immigrants, newly nationally aware Americans changed his name from Sinter Klaas to Santa Claus.
Writers like Washington Irving described the arrival of St. Nicholas on horseback. In 1823, writer Clement Clarke Moore crafted the image of Santa Claus as an elf in his poem The Night BeforeChristmas. Writer Moore gave Santa Claus reindeer with names and a sleigh. Illustrator Thomas Nast drew popular pictures of Santa Clause in Harper’s Magazinefrom the 1860s to the 1880s and Nast also invented Santa’s workshop at the North Pole and his list of good and bad children all over the world. In 1931, a series of Coca-Cola advertisements introduced the human sized Santa Claus wearing a red suit. In 1939, an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company introduced Rudolph, the ninth reindeer with a red and shiny nose.
In the 21st century, a white bearded Santa Claus wearing a red suit makes a Christmas Eve journey in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, one named Rudolph with a shiny red nose. He stops at houses all over the world and climbs down chimneys to leave his Christmas gifts in stockings hanging on the fireplace.
Santa Claus Rounds Up His Reindeer and Sings Jingle Bells
Santa’s scientific Christmas Eve journey begins early because he can’t sleep. After he tosses and rolls from one side of his bed to the other for an hour, Santa sits up in bed. The weight of his responsibilities rests as heavy as the world his shoulders and his stress level pushes his blood pressure higher than Mt. Everest. His Reptilian Brain, the brain that responds to stress by shutting down thinking processes and operating in survival mode, tells him to round up the reindeer to see if they were ready for their trip around the world.
Santa chooses to ride his horse Noel to round up his reindeer. In fact, for decades before the reindeer were assigned to him, he rode Noel to deliver his toys. Noel helped him improve his balance and coordination so when he shook when he laughed, he didn’t fall over. Riding Noel or any horse burns about five calories per minute and the number of burned calories goes up with the speed and distance of the ride. Santa seriously considers riding Noel on his rounds every time he looks at his belly. Then he looks at Rudolph’s nose, puts Noel in her warm stable and goes to round up his reindeer.
Rounding up his reindeer is a task Santa must perform every Christmas Eve. Many centuries ago, Santa discovered reindeer grazing in Scandinavia, Greenland, Russia, and northern China. Patting them on the head and reminding them of the coming journey, he moved on to Spain and then to Canada and Alaska. He followed the reindeer trail to what later would become the states of Washington, Maine, Nevada and Tennessee.
Santa Claus climbs into his sleigh, wishing that he could convince the reindeer to fly faster than the speed of light so he could visit every house in the world and get home in time for breakfast. Right now the reindeer were just flying at the speed of the sound of jingle bells. Santa listened for the jingle bells. He heard them as he drove through outer space.
Jingle Bells sounds had already been broadcast from outer space. Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sent a message to Mission Control while they were in space on December 16, 1965. The two astronauts had reported spotting an object with a command module and eight smaller modules in front. They said that the pilot of the command module was wearing a red suit. Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra then took out a harmonica and sleigh bells that they had smuggled aboard and played their version of Jingle Bells.
Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells. The reindeer heard Santa singing the Jingle Bells and they moved their 32 feet in time to the music. Santa moved his two feet too. All of them used their mirror neurons, cells located in the cortex, the brain’s central processing unit. Mirror neurons become active when a person is performing an action along with watching another person perform it. Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that sensory experiences are also motor experiences and activities like music and dancing can refine movement skills by improving timing, coordination and rhythm.
Does Santa Carry Enough Gifts in His Sleigh for Everyone?
Santa Claus hoists his sack of gifts over his shoulder to deliver down chimneys and he adjusts his thoughts to move from his Reptilian survival brain to his Mammalian brain which controls emotions- love lives here. Attachment to others, duty, responsibility, family and social ties also originate in the mammalian brain. Santa knows that children and grownups are depending on him to deliver gifts, but he also knows that there are not enough tangible gifts in his sack for everyone. He knows that not everyone will welcome him when he slides down the chimney for in some homes the chimney is cold and the rooms barren of hope. Santa squares his shoulders and lands on the first roof in the town beneath him.
Santa Claus slides down the chimney and discovers that the people of the house have left him a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. He sits in a rocking chair by the fireplace, munches cookies and thinks, using his neo-cortex which controls the intellectual processes of the brain. The neo-cortex is divided into two hemispheres often called the right and left brain. The right brain controls creative imagination. Albert Einstein created the theory of relativity based on a daydream he had on a summer day alone on the top of a hill. Using the power of creative imagination, he visualized himself riding on a sunbeam to the end of the universe, returning toward the sun. He reasoned that if his dream were to be proved correct then the universe must be curved.
Santa dozes in the chair for a time and then wakes with a start and travels back up the chimney. He continues on his rounds, this time using the power of his creativeimagination to warm cold chimneys, to fill barren rooms with comfortable furniture, and to create laughter from sorrow. In some homes he uses the gift of seeing goodness that no one else can see. In other homes he returns hope after years of exile. In some places he points out possibilities and in others he develops them.
Santa and the Reindeer Go to the Home of Their Choice
Finally, Santa Claus and the reindeer’s journey is over. It is time to go home. But where is home? Some legends locate Santa’s home at the North Pole along with his Christmas gift workshop. There is cotton grass at the North Pole in the Arctic for reindeer to graze, but it is sparse and seasonal.
Perhaps the reindeer convinced Santa to move to more plentiful pastures, because in 1925, newspapers reported that Santa Claus had been spotted living in Finnish Lapland in the off season. In 1927, Markus Rautio, “Uncle Markus” broadcast the great secret that Santa Clause lived on Lapland’s Korvatunturi or “Ear Fell.”
Ear Fell, located on Finland’s eastern frontier, resembles a hare’s ears. In legend they became Santa Claus’ ears that he uses to listen to the world’s children to hear if they are being naughty or nice. A busy group of elves who have their own history in Scandinavian legend serve as Santa’s helpers.
The Real Santa Claus
Santa Claus uses his heart and brain together to create legends, toys, possibilities, and hope.
The heart is a hollow, muscular organ, composed of four chambers. Two separate, but coordinated pumps on the right and left side of the heart push the blood around the human body. Each pump has its own atrium, ventricle, inlet valve and outlet valve. They work together to keep a physical body functioning.
Santa Claus inspires the spirits of giving and imagination that work together to help people fill their hearts with love and giving. Christmas happens around the world no matter what the country or century. Over the centuries, Santa Claus – the ageless, timeless, genderless spirit- bestows gifts on Christmas and inspires everyone to give in return.
Santa Claus doesn’t live at the North Pole or in Lapland during the off season. The scientific Santa Claus lives in hearts all year around.
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