By the time the holiday season is in full swing, curious, knowledge-seeking children have lots of questions about Santa Claus and Christmas. How does Santa make it around the world in one night? Do reindeer really fly? Why do people keep giving us mince pies?
But the biggest, mid boggling, question of all? How does Santa get down the chimney? Can he even fit into a chimney? After all, the chimney flue isn’t that big, and Santa Claus is a jolly and plump, old fellow. Plus, his bag of toys is pretty big, even with the world’s best magic it couldn’t get that small, could it? Does he drop straight down, or does he use special climbing equipment? And what happens if you don’t even have a chimney? Does that mean people without chimneys don’t get any presents at all?
It’s a perplexing question that many parents struggle to answer but to help you out this season, we’ve investigated and discovered 3 very probable theories to help you explain.
No.1. The Alice in Wonderland Effect
This is the theory that Santa Claus has perfected the art of miniaturization or the ability to make himself small and the milk and cookies that children leave for him help him do just that. Santa adds a special potion to the milk that causes him to shrink in size, so he can go up and down the chimney. He carries a thermos that he can refill with milk at each house, so he always has milk with him while he’s on each house’s rooftop. Then when he wants to return to normal size, he shakes magic sprinkles on the cookies children leave for him and eats them to grow big. This process is similar to the “drink me” potion and “eat me” cake that Alice uses in Wonderland to make herself small and big.
Santa Claus uses the science of contraction and expansion. Michael C. LaBarbera, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy and geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, believes that reducing the distance between molecular bonds could do the trick. There’s a lot of empty space between the nucleus of an atom and the electrons surrounding it, so moving everything closer together could potentially decrease the size of an object. The mass of the object stays the same, of course, so that may explain any loud crashes that might come from the fireplace if Santa slipped [source: University of Chicago].
But what about Santa’s suit? If he compresses his body to a small enough size to fit through the chimney, wouldn’t the suit just crumple into a pile since it isn’t a part of him? Santa’s suit would need to be threaded with carbon nanotubes. This would allow the suit to compress as Santa himself compresses. His belt would also be equipped with a grappling hook, making his descent into your living room a bit smoother.
To visualise and help explain this concept, try this experiment with your children. Gather a saucepan, water, some small-to-medium-sized eggs, a glass milk or juice bottle and matches. Fill the saucepan with water and boil the eggs for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the eggs cool and peel off the shell. Light a match and drop it into the bottle. Quickly, place the egg on the mouth of the bottle. Watch what happens. As you’ll see, it’s a good thing that Santa’s not an egg, but the concept is similar. Besides Santa has his fluffy red suit to provide some padding and his sturdy boots to help break his fall.
The most popular theory of all is that Santa Claus himself has magical abilities. After all, in the poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, all Santa has to do to go up the chimney is to lay his finger aside of his nose and give a nod – and up the chimney he goes. If that’s not magic, we don’t know what is.
Whatever theory you believe explains how Santa Claus goes up and down the chimney, make sure his journey is easier by having your chimney professionally cleaned and ensure you fire is turned off or burnt out before bed especially on Christmas Eve! We’re sure Santa will thank you. And remember, if you don’t have a chimney don’t worry, Santa always find a way.