How Santa Claus Works

Santa's Appearance and Santa Gear

Santa Claus scales a building to deliver presents.
Santa Claus scales a building to deliver presents.
Getty Images

If you've ever paid attention to the floats during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you'll notice one constant from year to year -- Santa Claus is always the big finale, the last one to pass through the streets of New York City. We'd have to assume that this is his only major official public appearance during the year, since he would be incredibly busy organizing wish lists and keeping tabs on elf productivity.

That brief glimpse, however, is enough to let us know that all those songs, poems, stories and movies about Santa Claus could be fairly accurate in their visual representations. Whether Santa is portrayed on film in live-action or in stop-motion animation, Hollywood has his image down pretty well -- he's a large, rather plump older man with white hair and a long, white beard, and most of the time he's wearing his trademark red suit and red stocking cap. His cheeks are almost always a rose-colored hue, and it may not be because he's been drinking too much eggnog. As we mentioned earlier, the weather is very cold in the North Pole, so his skin could become easily chapped.

Our best estimations are that Santa must use some serious gear to deliver presents:

  • The Sleigh - In addition to being outfitted with flying reindeer, Santa's sleigh must be a highly advanced flying machine that performs faster and more efficiently than any spaceship currently used by NASA. The vehicle would have to be equipped with a special Antimatter Propulsion Unit that allows Santa to skip from one roof to the next in less than 24 hours and make it home to the North Pole in time for a nap and Christmas dinner. The sleigh would probably be outfitted with an iPod player and a hot cocoa maker, allowing maximum comfort during Santa's trip around the Earth.
  • The Suit - The traditional red suit Santa wears would have to be a bit more complex than it looks. First, it would be made out of a protective, lead-free material that blocks any radiation from Santa's engine -- antimatter rockets produce dangerous gamma radiation, so it's important for Santa to keep safe up in the sky. Second, the suit would also be threaded with carbon nanotubes, allowing the suit to shrink with Santa if he ever changes his size.
  • The Belt - For climbing up and down chimneys, Santa would need a little support. We assume he's taken some rock climbing lessons, and his belt comes with all the necessary hooks, grapples, bells and whistles to get him in and out of your living room before you even have a chance to spot him.

In the next section, we'll examine whether there's any connection to Santa and the mall Santas you might spy while you do your holiday shopping.