October 31, 2019: Recently it came to my attention that while I originally wrote this post to serve as the second (and very short) post in a 2-post series, almost no one reads it as the second post in a series any more. Mostly, the search engines are bringing y'all straight here, and don't drop you off at the lead-in post, "How old is Santa?", first. So I've revised my original super-short post to function as a stand-alone post in its own right. (Oh, and... Hi new readers! Thanks for visiting Caterpickles!)
“Mommyo, when is Santa’s birthday?”
When The Four-Year-Old first asked me when Santa’s birthday was, it was very tempting just to answer “December 25,” and leave it at that.
But before I could get the words out, it occurred to me that Santa might prefer not to work on his birthday. Unlike me, I could easily see Santa having a choice in the matter. So if he does take his birthday off, then December 25 would be the one day in the year least likely to be Santa’s birthday.
And once I realized that, I had lost all hope of being able to use the quick “December 25th” response. The Four-Year-Old can always tell when I give her the easy-possibly-correct-but-probably-wrong answer.
Worse, my usual birthday-discovery methods weren’t going to work with Santa.
Normally, when The Four-Year-Old asks me when someone’s birthday is, I call them up and ask. Particularly if they are the sort of someone who drops by the house once a year at Christmas.
But since Santa’s number isn’t in my address book (yet), I was going to need a different approach.
So The Four-Year-Old and I started brainstorming.
“I could wait up for him on Christmas Eve and ask him,” I suggested.
The Four-Year-Old did not like this plan. As she promptly pointed out, Santa only shows up after everyone is sleeping, and if I never go to bed, Santa might skip our house entirely.
Asking the Santa at the local mall was out. I didn’t want to tell The Four-Year-Old this, but I suspect many of those Santas may be just actors and not the real guy at all. Even Santa can’t possibly make time to make all those appearances during what must be his busiest toy production time of the year. For the purposes of our brainstorming session though, I just pretended that it was our schedule that posed the impossible problem. As in, “What a shame, The Four-Year-Old, that we’re going to be too busy this week to visit Santa in Walpole Mall.”
“That’s ok, Mommyo, we’ll just write him a letter!” The Four-Year-Old said.
While she ran off to get some paper, I booted up my computer to do a discreet bit of research.
I quickly ran into an unexpected roadblock.
Before you can find out when Santa’s birthday is, you have to figure out who you think Santa is
Turns out there are at least five different plausible candidates for Santa:
- Saint Nicholas (aka Nikolaos the Wonder-worker), the 4th Century Greek Bishop of Myra who had a penchant for dropping coins in the clogs of the poor and who came to be known to the Dutch as Sinterklaas. St. Nicholas was born on the Ides of March (March 15), 270.
- Father Christmas, first mentioned in 15th C British Christmas carols, and whose preferred means of travel appears to have been by goat, not reindeer-pulled sleigh. Father Christmas’ birthday, unfortunately, is unknown.
- Santa Claus, the Americanized version of the British and Dutch Sinterklaas (a name first used in the American press in 1773). Santa’s birthday is often listed as March 15, but it’s always possible that those people have decided that Santa is really St. Nicholas, and so are simply using St. Nicholas’s birthday. I’ve got enough doubt that I’m going to leave this as an unknown (for now).
- Albert Einstein, who according to Gaute Einevoll, bears a striking resemblance to the man in red and who, perhaps more importantly, has the in-depth knowledge of moving matter required to deliver all those presents on time. Einstein was born on March 14, 1879.
- The Norse god Odin. Every winter, Odin would lead a great Yule hunting party through the sky on his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Children would set boots filled with carrots, straw, or sugar by their chimneys as snacks for Odin’s horse. Odin would reward the children for their kindness by filling the boots with candy and gifts. Odin’s birthday is unknown (as far as I can tell).
Given all that, what’s the most probable date for Santa’s birthday?
- St. Nicholas: March 15
- Father Christmas: Unknown.
- Santa Claus: This is a recursive question, and I refuse to answer it on the grounds it may break my computer (and I’ve had quite enough of that sort of thing already this year).
- Albert Einstein: March 14, 1879.
- Odin: Unknown.
So there you have it. Two unknowns, one unknowable, and two votes for the middle of March.
Now if you’ll excuse me while I make some quick calculations on my computer….
proc means p1 p25 p50 p75 p99 data=santafile;
Looks like Santa’s birthday is most likely March 15, with a 95% confidence interval of 3.16 (year 0) – 3.14 (year +1).
- Why do some people call Santa Kris Kringle? (Caterpickles)
- Would Santa vacation in Texas? (Caterpickles)
- Are elves real? (Caterpickles)
- How old is Santa? (Caterpickles)