Two days ago in Chennai, on my way back home from the office, I saw Santa Claus. He was riding on the back seat of the motorcycle, facing backwards with a bunch of balloon and waving to people on the street. I was shocked as I never expected to see Santa in Chennai, where seems to have little room for Christmas Spirit under the strong Hinduism.
Christmas Spirit – India
After listening my story, my Indian coworkers told me that Santa Claus is quite common in Chennai, as local churches sponsor the event and deploy Santa Clauses as a charity. They give candies to kids. The office is decorated with red, white, and blue balloons and the employees are encouraged to wear red and green. The shopping mall has a big miniature model of a snow-covered Western-style town, where a small locomotive runs around and around. It seems India has more Christmas Spirit than the United States, where Santa is no longer living in the fancy North Pole but in the reality of capitalism.
Santa School – USA
Christmas also provides job opportunities for Santas who come to a mall or other local event and have their picture taken with a kid on his lap. In order to get this opportunity, they go to the Santa School to become more Santa. I’m not sure about Santa’s compensation, but it is not nominal. There was news about a local city government in California cancelled Christmas event due to financial deficit and the Santa, who has been the Santa for the city for years, lost his job. Eventually, someone offered a donation and the city’s Christmas (and Santa’s seasonal income) were saved.
My Love Santa Claus – Japan
While the Santa in the US is more business like, the Santa in Japan adds a personal touch – well, very personal. Christmas is a big event in Japan, although 99% of the population is not Christian. Therefore, Christmas has lost all the religious meanings and become a fashionable event to celebrate – mostly among couples. They would have a nice date and exchange gifts each other. For the singles with someone in mind, Christmas is an opportunity to bring their relationship to the next level. Therefore, Japanese Christmas involves strategic and tactical planning, competition and manupilation, joy and jealous, happy new couples and broken hearts.
Whereever you live, you better be nice and good. Merry Christmas!