In cities across the globe, imagine that all the shopping-mall Santas get off work at the exact same time and head straight to the bar. This is SantaCon
, and this tide of crimson carousers puts a different spin on being merry, all while still being the Santa of dreams to children they encounter along the way.
It's the holiday spirit with an exponential factor. A crowd of jolly Santas will wipe the scowl off any Scrooge’s face, especially if those Santas buy a drink for the crankypants at a local pub. Throw in a little Kringle dancing and harmless hijinks, and next year, that Scrooge might be in a Santa suit, too.
Begun in San Francisco
in 1994, the first SantaCon
(called “Santarchy” at the time) was sponsored by The San Francisco Cacophony Society, with inspiration from a Mother Jones
article about a Danish political group that dressed in Santa costumes and mobbed a Copenhagen department store. Intended to play with the archetypical image of Santa using throngs of the favorite Christmas elf playing around in a handful of downtown locations, SantaCon’s beginnings were much more than just a real-life evening of Bad Santa
That one night of Kringle chaos has grown to an ongoing December party in 311 locations
in 42 countries. In 2014, the vast majority of SantaCon events are held on the weekend of December 12-13, however others begin as early as November and run through December 20. Across the world, from San Francisco to Montreal to New York City, SantaCon crosses the Atlantic to hit London, Paris and Hamburg, before continuing on to Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney. In 2007, more than 13,000 Santas set a Guinness World Record in Ireland. Let’s see if you get to hang out with a crowd that’s bigger.
SantaCon guidelines are simple, from keeping an eye out for your fellow Santas to remembering to tip the bar staff to smiling for children and maybe bringing some candy canes along to hand out along the way.
While some individual Santas may want a very long leash, there actually happen to be SantaCon guidelines that help the crowd of Kringles have fun. Participants carouse in bars, visit department stores, and hang out in city squares, and the festive focus of the evening is all about holiday spirit and great costumes. And spirits play a large part in SantaCon, because Santas like to take their fun with some tasty libations. That said, hammered Santas are not encouraged, because that’s when fun turns to violence, and nobody likes to see Santa battered and bruised in the drunk tank.
Remaining guidelines are simple, from keeping an eye out for your fellow Santas to remembering to tip the bar staff to smiling for children and maybe bringing some candy canes along to hand out along the way. SantaCon may be an event for adults, but kids still idolize Santa and small gifts for the good children (which means pretty much all of them) go over big. A smile and a ho-ho-ho may make a 5-year-old temporarily forget the confusion of staring at a sea of Santas.
Gearing Up for SantaCon
If you’re visiting a destination for SantaCon
, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you have a jolly time. Each event has its own page on the official website, where routes, starting location and starting time will be posted. Santa dresses for all occasions, and wearing multiple costume layers
may help you deal with outdoor weather, yet also be comfortable dancing in a nightclub.
Contrary to how it may seem, you don’t have to dress like traditional Santa. Unusual interpretations (as long as they’re not too porny) are encouraged, and even reindeer and elf-themes are welcome. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just rent a Santa suit for SantaCon. Unless you’re planning well in advance, they’re not likely to be available. Buy your own (very handy, as SantaCon is an annual event all over the world), or get creative and carve together a hipster, punk, or Rasta-style Kris Kringle and have fun with it.
SantaCon Santas don’t just wander around town in a flash mob. The Naughty Song Book
, with songs titled “Away on a Bender” and “Cannabis Is Coming to Town,” is definitely not for nice Santas. But in a bar and tucked away from the kiddos, the default song book for SantaCon provides plenty of opportunities for bellowing some risque lyrics with your fellow naughty elves.
Some destinations have event-specific songbooks, so be sure to check the official page for the SantaCon location you have in mind. That definitely comes in handy when you need lyrics in languages other than your own. If you’ve got kids at home, remember to keep it out of their hands, or you’ll have to deprogram them before other kids’ parents start calling you wondering why their Johnny is singing naughty holiday songs.