What Nationality is Santa Claus?

Istock PhotoThe circumpolar states have been as busy as elves preparing scientific evidence to support their claims to large swathes of the Arctic seabed.  But while it’s possible one of them may legally lay claim to the North Pole in the next few years, a far more important question during the Christmas season is “what nationality is Santa?” Oil, gas, and shipping lanes are about as appealing as grandma’s fruitcake when stacked up against the biggest prize in the Arctic: Kris Kringle’s citizenship. 

Not content to claim just the seabed surrounding the North Pole, Canada has gone one step further and claimed Father Christmas himself. 

Canada’s claim is further bolstered by the fact that the magnetic North Pole is in Canadian territory, just off the coast of Ellesmere Island.  However it’s moving towards Russia at a clip of about 40 miles a year; Canadian children will be so disappointed when their letters to Santa and his famous HOH OHO postal code need an international stamp!

Our American neighbours, not known for their subtlety, have ignored geographical reality and gone ahead and established their own North Pole – literally.  North Pole, Alaska, population 2,200, is located about 10 miles southeast of Fairbanks and boasts streets such as Snowman Lane, Santa Claus Lane, and St. Nicholas Drive.  No word on whether you can see Russia from there. 

Speaking of Russia, their claim to the North Pole has all the subtlety of Rudolph’s nose on a foggy Christmas Eve, and stems from the dropping of a Russian flag in a titanium canister onto the seabed floor of the Pole in 2007.  If Santa Claus really is Russia’s Father Frost it’s unlikely he’s a member of the Communist Worker’s Party – those elves aren’t going to have a toy for every boy and girl by working 37.5 hour work weeks!

On the European side, the Finns have the strongest claim to Santa’s citizenship.  The elaborate Santa Claus Village, a theme park, is located just north of the city of Rovaniemi, in the Arctic Circle.  Concorde jets used to fly directly from London to Rovaniemi during the Christmas season so that British children could visit Santa for the afternoon.  Kind of like Hillary Clinton at this year’s Arctic 5 meeting.  And there’s little question that Donner, Blitzen, and all of the other reindeer are of Scandinavian origin; they never let poor Russia play in any NATO war games.

Whether you call him St. Nick, Ded Moroz or Père Noël, there are a few things I’m sure are on Santa Claus’ list:

  • Arctic Council reform – visions of a permanent secretariat dancing in my head.
  • Enhanced Coast Guard and Search & Rescue capabilities – your presence is your present.
  • A regional seas agreement – gonna determine what’s naughty and what’s nice.
  • Mandatory shipping guidelines – time to regulate the Polar Expressway.

Here’s hoping all of the good Arctic boys and girls learn to share in 2011. Happy Holidays!

Heather Exner-Pirot

Heather Exner-Pirot is the Managing Editor of the Arctic Yearbook, a Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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