The outside of Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska
The much bemoaned commercialisation of Christmas reaches a whole new level in North Pole, Alaska — a town that celebrates Santa 365 days a year. The giant candy cane street lights are a permanent feature in this northern town, where Santa is available for pictures in July. In fact, the town’s economy revolves around the selling of Christmas year round, reports the Catholic News Agency.
Amid this tourism spectacle, Father Robert Fath and parishioners at St Nicholas Catholic Church in North Pole try to focus on the season of Advent and the true meaning of the Incarnation.
Following the historic traditions of the church, Christians are meant to spend Advent “in anxious anticipation” of both Christ’s incarnation into the world at Bethlehem, and his return at the end of time, Father Fath told the Catholic Anchor.
This focus can prove challenging in a town where emphasis on Santa and toys continues through the penitential season of Advent.
Sometimes it gets to Father Fath. “I do tend to rail against Santa Claus,” he said, “particularly the 50 foot monstrosity down the street.”
He refers to a 50-foot permanent statue of Santa in town. Father Fath jokes that someday he’s going to build a 51-foot statue of the real Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth century bishop whose legend inspired the modern-day Santa.
In North Pole, there is also the Santa Claus House, a year-round Santa available for photos, live reindeer on display, and streets with permanent names like Snowman Lane, Kris Kringle, Mistletoe, and Holiday Road.
How did all of this come about, since the town of North Pole is actually 1,700 miles from the real North Pole?
Like many Alaska towns North Pole is relatively young. According to the city’s website, the first settlers arrived near mile 15 of the Richardson Highway in 1944 and staked their claim.
FULL STORY North Pole Catholics honour holy days in town filled with kitsch (CNA)