LifestyleNATO's holiday video sparks controversy. Finns insist Santa Claus lives in Lapland, not the North Pole

NATO's holiday video sparks controversy. Finns insist Santa Claus lives in Lapland, not the North Pole

The NATO holiday video sparked controversy in Finland.
The NATO holiday video sparked controversy in Finland.
Images source: © Youtube

6:06 AM EST, December 18, 2023

The NATO military unit based in Finnish Lapland is shown getting ready for Christmas. Dressed in winter camouflage, soldiers on snowmobiles and skis embark on a quest for a Christmas tree, marking the commencement of the North Atlantic Alliance's Christmas video this year.

NATO's Christmas greeting sparks controversy

Santa arrives at their base while the soldiers are busily decorating the tree. The guard authenticates his identity through his English-written driver's license registered at the "North Pole". He is then allowed in.

Contrary to the video's portrayal, Finnish tradition suggests that the real Santa Claus has his office in Rovaniemi along the Arctic Circle, but his actual dwelling is the Lappish hill Korvatunturi, located beyond the Arctic Circle, not the North Pole, asserts Mika Vakevainen, who has served Santa for 40 years.

Korvatunturi, approximately 310 miles northeast of Rovaniemi, lies on the border with Russia – and since Finland joined NATO on April 4th, it is also situated on the Alliance's eastern border. The distinctive Korvatunturi (1594 feet) is characterized by a rock formation on its hillside shaped like an ear canal, through which even the faintest whispers from the exterior can permeate.

Santa Claus's multitude of appearances

Everyone, including the Finnish Santa, agrees that Santa Claus is a universal figure whom everyone would like to claim as their own. "For various reasons, including the world's current situation, it's important to highlight and accentuate the Finnish heritage of Santa Claus," he added, specifying that Santa historically symbolizes "goodness and peace".

The Finnish newspaper, "Iltalehti", points out that while NATO's Christmas greetings and the commotion surrounding Santa's domicile may have upset some Finns, the Swedes believe that Santa lives in the north of their country.

According to traditional Finnish lore, a horrifying old figure clad in tattered rags, goat hides, and furs, known as the Christmas goat or joulupukki, is associated with the holiday season. However, the contemporary image of Santa Claus, an elderly gentleman in a red suit with a thick white beard handing out attractive gifts, prevalent in Western culture, has been adopted from American culture.

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