The North Pole is famous throughout the world for being home to Santa Claus! Aside from being the residence of Mr. Ho Ho Ho himself, the North Pole is a fascinating place for so many other reasons.
The North Pole: Otherwise Known as Santa's Hometown
The North Pole is best known for being unfathomably cold and Santa Claus's hometown.
Santa's Hoho-Hometown: A Cold Mass of Floating Ice
One of the most fascinating facts about the North Pole is that it's the northernmost point on Earth. It is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. There is no landmass, making it pretty easy for any internet-savvy kid to go online and ruin Santa Claus' career image for good. Unlike the South Pole, there is no way to build a permanent research station there because of the constant shifting sea ice. Of course, this doesn't really pose an issue for Santa Claus because his snow palace is probably magical anyhow.
Russian researchers did set up a temporary research base on a ten-foot thick ice mass in 1937. Four men were dropped and left to study the barren land for a year. When it was time to retrieve the team, the research station wasn't where it had been left. The station and the iceberg it had been set up on were floating off in the Greenland Sea, over 1600 miles away from where it had originally been set up one year prior.
The Lore of Santa Claus
The North Pole has long been famous for being the home to Santa Claus, the keeper of all things Christmas. He has been associated with the North Pole since the 19th century. Pre-Santa Claus was Father Christmas, and there is actually quite a difference between the two figures regarding tradition and lore. Father Christmas is from a much older legend based in European mythology. He was thought to have carried the "Spirit of Winter" with him, and he went from house to house being fed and given things to drink by the household members. Unlike Santa Claus, Father Christmas did not bring gifts and was not associated with children.
What About Mail Addressed to the North Pole?
So if all of these kids around the world have been told that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, but there is no landmass there to set up a post office, where exactly do all of those letters to Santa go each year? The North Pole Post Office, located in Europe, gets over half a million letters from children year-round. Some of these letters are saved for displays and decoration in the Arctic Circle in Lapland.
Many letters become part of a volunteer project called Letter to Santa. It was started in the 1920s in New York and continues with volunteers writing responses to as many letters as possible. Sometimes, they send gifts to the children who wrote the letters as well. With today's technology, many children now e-mail Santa Claus instead of sending a letter all the way to the North Pole. Several websites give "Santa's" email address, including one that directs your email to North Pole, Alaska.
Other Cool North Pole Facts
Santa aside, the North Pole is truly one of the most intriguing spaces on planet Earth.
The North Pole Has No Time Zone
Because the North Pole is resident-free (apparently Santa doesn't count in the census), a time zone can not be assigned to the space. The closest inhabited spot is called Alert. It is a military installation some 600 miles away on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada. Alert sits in the Eastern Time Zone, so if you are basing the time zone of the North Pole on closest known land proximity, it would be considered part of the Eastern Time Zone.
Sun Rise and Sun Set Are Yearly Occurrences
Most people witness sunrise and sunset each day. If you were to live in the North Pole, sunsets and sunrises would be a rare occurrence, only happening one time per year. At the North Pole, it is 24 hours of dark or 24 hours of light. The sun rises on March 20th, the date of the Spring Equinox, and stays high in the sky until it sets six months later, on September 22nd, the date of the Fall Equinox.
You Can Run a Marathon at the North Pole
You have to be seriously hard-core about athletics or simply nuts to want to run a marathon up at the North Pole! An annual marathon has been taking place in this extreme part of the world since 2003. Runners complete a 26.2-mile race in temperatures that dip as low as -20°F. The record for the fastest marathon time is 3 hours and 36 minutes. Thomas Maguire set it in 2007.
It Is Not the Coldest Place on Earth
When it came to choosing a more temperate pole, Santa picked the right one. Contrary to popular belief, the North Pole is not, in fact, the coldest place on Earth. The South Pole's temperatures get colder than the North Pole's temperatures, and this is because the South Pole sits so high above sea level. The South Pole is actually the tallest continent in the world. The North Pole, by comparison, sits upon a thin sheet of ice, and its proximity to sea level allows the landscape to steal heat from the surrounding waters. Make no mistake, being warmer than the South Pole doesn't make the North Pole pleasant. It is still bitter as all get out!
Santa Is Sitting on a Gold Mine
About 20% of the world's oil resources sit at the bottom of the Arctic seabed. Up to this point, the reserves have remained unreachable, but with global warming raging on and polar ice caps melting at rapid speed, there may soon come a point where resources will be attainable.
No Man's Land
The North Pole is literally no man's land. No man lives there permanently, and no country has a claim to the icy mass of floating berg. Countries have tried to lay claim to the North Pole (and knowing that it sits atop so much resource and wealth, it is easy to see why countries would fight for it,) but because it sits firmly in international waters, it belongs to no one. While it is true that the North Pole is no man's land, it does have laws. Because of its location in international waters, it is governed by something called The Law of the Sea.
The Final Frontier
The North Pole continues to hold intrigue and mystery for so many people, and the land will likely be studied for many years to come. It is one of the final frontiers in the world, being sparsely studied and explored unless you are, of course, Santa. In his case, the North Pole is simply home.