Category Archives: Christmas

Microsoft and Google go head to head over tracking Santa

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) has been tracking Santa since 1955. It all began when a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. The phone number put the children through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations hotline. The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location and the Santa Tracker was born.

NORAD now uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets. The Santa Cams “are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year. The cameras capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world”. Full technical details of all four systems can be found on the NORAD Santa site at

2012 NORAD Santa Tracker
2012 NORAD Tracks Santa (HD) – YouTube :

In 2007 Google became an official NORAD Tracks Santa partner and provided the maps that displayed real time information on Santa’s location. This year, that partnership ended and NORAD is now using Microsoft’s Bing Maps. In response Google has launched its own Santa Tracker at It will be interesting to see how it compares with NORAD’s but straight away I have to query the quality of Google’s pre-launch information. On the “Learn more” page at the image shows not Santa as the central figure but a large snowman. Surely some mistake?

Google Santa Tracker Learn More

Google is also trying to push Google+ as the main source of information with up to the minute reports being posted on +Googlemaps at

At the time of writing this post lift off was just 15 minutes away so you still have time to get a ring side seat with the tracer of your choice:

The original NORAD tracker

Google Santa Tracker

PNC Christmas Price Index Surges 4.8 Percent In 2012

Prices for six items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song on par with 2011, but drought causes swans and geese prices to soar 

Christmas has many traditions and one of the more recently established ones is the Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

The 29th annual survey reveals that an improving US economy coupled with a severe drought that caused increased feed costs for large birds resulted in a 4.8 percent surge in the 2012 PNC Christmas Price Index. Based on the gifts in the holiday classic, The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the price tag for the PNC CPI is $25,431.18 in 2012, $1,168 more than last year.

“The rise of the PNC CPI is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we’ve had over the past 12 months,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management. “Despite some weak spots in the economy, consumer balance sheets are improving along with consumer confidence, which means this may still be a spirited holiday season.”

PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. True Loves must spend over $107,300.24 for all 364 gifts, a 6.1 percent increase on last year.

PNC Christmas Price Index 2012

Swans rose by 11.1 percent whilst six items (the Partridge, Two Turtle Doves, Four Calling Birds, Eight Maids-A-Milking, Nine Ladies Dancing and 10 Lords-A-Leaping) remained the same price as last year.

The prices for 11 Pipers Piping ($2,562.00) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,775.50) are up 5.5 percent

The Three French Hens were up 10.0 percent and the Five Gold Rings soared 16.3 percent.

As the only unskilled labourers in the PNC CPI the price for the eight Maids-a-Milking is represented by the minimum wage. With the US minimum wage flat at $7.25 per hour hiring the maids this year will not increase labour costs.

For those True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online, PNC Wealth Management also calculates the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts purchased on the Internet. True Loves will pay a grand total of $40,440 to buy the items online, which is 1.5 percent more than last year and almost $580 more than this year’s traditional index.

In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of premium shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online,” Dunigan said.

The full press release is at and the index itself  is at The site includes an interactive scavenger hunt where visitors can take a trip around the world to locate the 12 gifts of Christmas.

Historical data can be downloaded as a spreadsheet from:

PNC’s Christmas Price Index

PNC CPI Broadcast

PNC’s Christmas Price Index for 2008 is now available. The index, compiled by PNC Wealth Management,  monitors the cost of the gifts sent by True Love  in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Christmas Price Index (CPI) team, comprising James P. Dunigan, Rebekah McCahan and E. William Stone, have been tracking the index since 1984.

According to the 24th annual survey, the cost of the PNC CPI is  now $21,080, $1,573 more than in 2007 .  PNC comment in their press release:

“The seven swans a-swimming proved to be a driver of this year’s index, carrying the greatest weight with a whopping 33.3 percent increase due to their scarcity. True Loves will spend $5,600 this year for Swans compared with $4,200 in 2007….

Two other costs in the CPI dropped this year: three French hens and Six geese-a-laying. This year the hens cost $30, a drop of 33.3 percent over last year, and the geese cost $240, falling one-third. Four calling birds remained steady, costing $599.96, the same as a year ago.”

An interactive chart allows researches to view the total CPI as well as individual items over the years.  More detailed and historical information is available including a spreadsheet containing data going back to 1984.

Christmas Price Index Interactive Chart
Christmas Price Index Interactive Chart

For True Loves who prefer to shop over the Internet,  PNC Wealth Management calculates that they will pay a grand total of $31,957 , almost $11,000 more than in the traditional index. According to Dunigan:

“In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online”

PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the True Cost of Christmas, which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. This holiday season,  True Loves will pay more than ever before – $86,609 – for all 364 items, up 10.9 per cent  from $78,100 in 2007.

PNC — The True Cost of the 12 Days of Christmas…

Cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas

PNC Wealth Management and institutional investments have released their annual report The True Cost of the 12 Days of Christmas. PNC have been monitoring the cost of all the items gifted by True Love in the popular Christmas song since 1984. The 2007 Christmas Price Index showed an increase of 3.1% over 2006. The five gold rings rose by a whopping 21.5%, reflecting the general trend of increasing commodity prices in the Consumer Price Index, and geese-a-laying are up by 20%. Maids-a-milking cost 13.6% more because of an increase in the federal minimum wage. In total the cost of all Twelve Days of Christmas, including the repetitions, comes to USD 78,100.10.

Interestingly, shopping on the Internet is not cheaper mainly because of the shipping and transportation costs involved particularly when it comes to livestock. Agency fees and travel expenses probably contribute to the USD 11,283.23 for the 10 Lords-a-leaping hired via the Internet, compared with USD 4,285.06 for hiring them through more traditional channels.

What the report does not cover is how True Love might be expected to fund this annual extravaganza. Taking out a new credit card or increasing the credit limit on existing cards is going to be more difficult in the current economic climate. House prices, in the UK at least, are at best static but starting to fall so re-mortgaging is not going to be a sensible option. There is also the question of air miles and green-house gas emissions generated by this giftfest. One source estimates that the total comes to 54.4 tonnes. Perhaps True Love should play the green environmental card and not send anything this year, thereby reducing his carbon foot print and doing his bit to help combat global warming.

Santa in breach of UK laws and EU directives

Santa could be spending Christmas behind bars. According to, part of Pinsent Masons an international law firm who advise on IT and e-commerce, Santa’s trading practices break several UK laws and fail to comply with EU directives.

Santa’s crime sheet includes:

  • Failing to comply with the European Union’s Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment Directive, which from this year made producers of goods responsible for their environmentally sound disposal. “Santa and the elves, as producers of electrical and electronic equipment, will have obligations in relation to goods placed on the market, together with responsibilities for financing the treatment, reprocessing and environmentally sound disposal of them,” said Kirsty Isla Cooper, an environmental law specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind There is some question ats to whether or not the elves are separately responsible because The Grotto has not disclosed whether elves are employees of Claus or are independent contractors.
  • Santa’s use of a sleigh drawn by nine reindeer in England, which has had outbreaks of of foot and mouth and bluetongue disease, could be a safety breach. “Claus’s bringing of reindeer in and out of restriction zones could be a serious threat to the industry.” say A spokeswoman for the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told Out-Law.Com “The Bluetongue exclusion zone is still in operation and applies to reindeer. There is a 150km surveillance zone around the exclusion zone. You wouldn’t be able to go in there with reindeer and leave with them alive.”
  • UK employment laws broken: restrictions on the number of hours worked (it is suspected that the elves work for more than 48 hours a week all year round) and race discrimination laws (Claus’s elf-focused employment practices)
  • Work at Height Regulations 2005: Santa should make sure his sleigh has guardrails to prevent a fall and a fall arrest system installed so that if he does fall he is protected.
  • Alcohol restrictions for pilots: the current UK limit is 20 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. One brandy would probably exceed that limit and Santa has a glass of spirits in each of the UK’s 25 million households in one evening.
  • Flying height restrictions: aircraft must not fly lower than 1,000 feet in major conurbations. Santa flies well below this height as he goes from roof to roof.

Santa is also accused of possible breaches of Data Protection and Distance Selling Regulations.

Full details are at:

Looks as though they will be locking him up and throwing away the key 🙁