[Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog]
From feasting on a turkey dinner to singing carols around the fire, there are certainly plenty of traditions to enjoy during the holiday season. Much to the delight of the child in each of us, the ritual of gift-giving continues today, and I know I still find cheer at the bottom of my stocking every Christmas morning.
Another tradition that brings joy to youngsters everywhere is the one started in 1955 by NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which every year counts down to Christmas Eve and tracks Santa’s whereabouts as he delivers presents across the globe. Google similarly started tracking Santa in 2004 and has been partnering with NORAD on this fun project since 2007. Keeping the tradition alive, today marks the kick-off of this year’s countdown at www.noradsanta.org. On the NORAD website, kids can play holiday-themed games (a new one is released each day) and get updates from the North Pole as Santa prepares for his big sleigh ride.
If you haven’t tracked Santa in years past, we hope this is the year you’ll start a new tradition of visiting www.noradsanta.org and following Santa’s journey all around the world. Starting at 2 a.m. EST on December 24, you’ll be able to track him in real-time on Google Maps from your computer or phone as well as on Google Earth with the plug-in by searching for [santa].
So this year, along with my family’s usual tradition of gathering around to hear my mum read “Twas the night before Christmas,” we’ll gather around the computer to see when Santa might be coming to our neighborhood. In honor of the occasion, I wrote a new opening verse:
'Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa was near
According to NORAD, he would soon be right here
So we hopped into bed and dreamt of new toys
And awoke in the morning to much Christmas joy
Happy holidays to all, and to tide you over till Christmas Eve, enjoy this video with highlights from Santa’s journey last year!