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Poles Apart at Christmas

  • November 29th, 2007
  • Posted by Sian Graham

santa.jpgThis Sunday (2.12.07) marks the beginning of Advent in the Christian calendar which means there remain only four weeks to Christmas.

Sweden ensured locals and visitors to Gallivare caught the festive bug by hosting the annual International Santa Games (26.11.07) which this year was won by Australian Dave Downey.


The coveted “Santa of the Year” title drew over 30 St. Nicholas impersonators ready to battle the pentathlon of events, including: kick sled, reindeer racing, chimney climbing, porridge eating and an activity titled “Santa’s Christmas Eve”.

Dave Downey a seasoned Santa athlete, having competed in two previous “Santa Games”, said helearned from his earlier mistakes and was in prime condition for this year’s event.

“Last year I fell off the reindeer and got porridge stuck in my beard,” Downey told The Local publication, (“Sweden’s News in English”).

Living in Western Australia this Santa did not get the chance to train in the snowy conditions of his fellow brothers, instead adopting an authentic Australian twist.

“It would have been great to train in the snow with reindeer but I ended up using kangaroos in the sun. It worked but the ride was a bit rockier,” he told local press.

Tournament organiser Elisabeth Landby said it was the chimney climb that set Downey apart from the other contestants.

“He was in third place during most of the time during the competition, but he impressed the judges during the chimney climbing and jumped to first place,” she said.

In recognition of his valiant effort Mr Downey received a gold medal, a diploma and a hand-made sculpture of Santa Claus.

He was also quick to announce that he would not be retiring anytime soon.

“I’m a Santa inside now and I’ll be back next year to defend my title,” he said.


Elsewhere traditional Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas markets will begin this weekend in Germany, and indeed throughout the rest of Europe.

Crowds of people lured by the smell of mulled wine, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and würst will brace the chilly weather to indulge in various Christmas festivities. Germany’s most famous Christmas market in Nuremberg opens Friday (30.11.07) with an elaborate traditional ceremony and the announcement of the “Nuremberg Christkind” or Christ Child, who represents the spirit of Christmas.

In Australia the advent celebrations although markedly different to their northern neighbors will begin with no less enthusiasm.

After all many of our Christmas traditions including St. Nicholas, Christmas trees, and stockings all originated in Germany.

The major cities will begin festivities on Friday (30.11.07) by lighting central Christmas trees, unveiling department window store displays, engaging in Christmas parades and carols by candle light.


The Local, “Aussie is Sweden’s Santa champion”, 26.11.07. (29.11.07).

Times Now, “Santa Games”, 27.11.07. (29.11.07).

Earth Times, “Traditional Christmas back in fashion with young Germans”, 29.11.07. (29.11.07)

Our Brisbane, “12 Days of Christmas”, (29.11.07).

That’s Melbourne, “Christmas in the City 2007”, (29.11.07).