Helsingin Sanomat newspaper has managed to figure out how Santa Claus, who lives in Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland, is able to visit every home in Finland on Christmas Eve.
By travelling at the speed of light – 299,792,458 kilometres a second – Father Christmas’s work is made a lot easier, says Tuukka Puranen of the information technology department of the University of Jyväskylä.
That’s because at huge speed, the passage of time becomes distorted, according to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.
Santa’s clock runs slower than time passes on earth, giving him the chance to pack in much more activity than would seem possible during an eight-hour working night.
The newspaper has solved another mystery: How far does Santa have to travel within Finland’s borders given his enormously complicated route?
Professor Jarmo Rusanen of the geography department of the University of Oulu points out that if Santa only had to visit 20 communities, he would theoretically have 60,822,330,204,416,000 different routes to choose from.
Finland has 336 municipalities and 2.5 million homes. Each dwelling is on average 350 metres from the next.
Rusanen’s educated guess is that Santa’s route covers 875,000 kilometres as the crow flies.
By way of comparison, the professor notes that the distance from the earth to the moon is about 385,000 kilometers.
However, not everyone is convinced that the answer lies in mathematics and physics alone. Sanna Kortelainen, managing director of Rovaniemi Tourism and Marketing, told the newspaper that you can’t rule out the magic of Christmas.