Santa’s Helpers

Hey, my name is Marten and I’m a developer at Datawrapper. This week’s (and my first ever) Weekly Chart is inspired by Margaux’s story on Christmas markets from a few weeks ago.

Christmas is getting closer and closer and — like every year — I’m way too late getting all my shopping in order. As usual, I can’t help but be impressed by Santa’s remarkable performance each year of getting every child their present in time.

Of course I’d be foolish to think that Santa is able to do all that by himself.

By now there are quite a few “helper” Santas available for hire all throughout Germany. These helper Santas dress up in costume and visit children and families on Santa’s behalf, providing him with some much needed relief during the stressful Christmas season. Helper Santas come from all walks of life — students, artists, the unemployed, clowns, etc. You can hire amateur Santas with fake beards or premium Santas with white beards of their own. You can even hire Santas on Harleys!

These Santas offer their services as individuals or sign up with an agency which then connects them to clients. A small Google search revealed a total of 37 Santa-for-hire individuals and agencies throughout Germany.

Clearly, Berlin is Germany's Santa capital ( well as its regular capital). But can we find out exactly how many Santas it has? To answer that question, I contacted each of Berlin's 11 agencies directly and asked how many Santa Clauses are working for them this year:

As you can see, my search wasn't super conclusive. Some agencies weren't able to answer my request. Others were hesitant to provide forecasts — COVID-19 has definitely also left its mark on the Santa business. All in all, it seems that there's going to be anywhere between 170 and 300 Santas in Berlin this year (not taking into account the countless dads and uncles dressing up for free as well as the rather obscure offerings on Craigslist and Ebay Kleinanzeigen).

Through my research I also got in touch with one of Berlin's oldest Santas, Chen (Weihnachtsmann in Berlin). Chen told me that Santa Claus visits in Berlin used to be coordinated by a network of Santa agencies, for which he once acted as "Chief" Santa Claus. Sadly, this network doesn't exist anymore. But at their peak, they organized around 12,000 home visits by 650–700 Santa Clauses. While that means that only about 2.8% of all Berlin households with children received a visit from Santa, it's still an impressive 17–18 visits per Santa Claus per Christmas season!

Not only that, but I also learned that Santas in Berlin even submit to their own code of conduct! I'm not sure about you, but I find it rather reassuring that if I hire a Santa this Christmas, I won't be getting someone like this:

Credit: Bad Santa (Columbia Pictures) via GIPHY

So just to set some expectations for this year's Santa visits I will conclude this week's Weekly Chart with the Berlin Santa Claus code of conduct. Happy holidays everyone!

Santa Claus loves all children from 0 to 100 and older.
Santa Claus spreads kindness and harmony.
Santa Claus is generous and kind to everyone.
Santa Claus is patient and calm, because he has time for everyone.
Santa Claus knows poems, stories, and Christmas songs.
Santa Claus creates a nice and happy atmosphere.
Santa Claus never swears.
Santa Claus does not eat, drink, or talk on the phone in costume and in the presence of people.
Santa Claus is always properly dressed.
Santa Claus does not wear advertising on his costume.

From Berlin Santa Claus Code of Conduct

Well, that's it from me. I hope you enjoyed this Santa edition of the Weekly Chart. Next week, Rose will be taking over again with some insights on words in the pandemic.