They once had to lie awake listening for the sound of Santa shuffling down the chimney. Now, to find out precisely when their gifts are going to arrive, children can track his progress from computers.
There was confusion this Christmas Eve, however, as two Santa-tracking websites – one sponsored by Microsoft, the other by Google – showed his reindeer taking different routes. At one point, the Microsoft-backed NORAD Santa Tracker showed the sleigh over Romania, having already delivered 2.8bn gifts.
Google's Santa Dashboard, meanwhile, had him over Madagascar, with a mere 770m gifts delivered. "You'd be surprised at how speedy Santa is," a Google spokesperson told the Washington Post. "It may often seem like he's in two places at once."
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, began tracking Santa in 1955, when its phone number was erroneously printed in an ad featuring Santa Claus. When children rang the number, an Air Force colonel began to give them news of Santa's progress.