Tuesday, 10. December 2013 - 13:12
11. 10. 12. - 15:00
Britain’s only official Father Christmas has slammed the growing commercialisation of Xmas with festive products now on sale almost as soon as the Easter eggs are off the shelves.
Santa, alias Ron Horniblew from Luton, who is a former world champion at the world Santa games which started in 1969 and was Britain's only official representative at the event said he wanted to remind people what Christmas is all about - and that Christmas decorations being sold in the height of summer was not appropriate.
Ron, now aged 77, said: "Part time I make benches for bars and clubs but my true vocation in life is to be Santa for a few weeks of the year - speaking to children and spreading the message of Xmas.
"When I hear that people are buying Christmas fare in July and August, it means they have lost the Christmas spirit, only the shop keepers are rubbing their hands with joy about it all.
"I wouldn't have taken on the mantle of Santa if I didn't care enough to do something about it, it's not just about dressing up - being a Santa is a weighty responsibility - and I don't just mean the extra pounds you carry around when you've had a few mince pies."
Ron discovered his vocation when he dressed up for his own kids and so impressed a friend who was visiting with his jovial manner that he was invited to do the same next year for the friend's children. After that he turned a trailer into a sledge and proceeded to travel around the area visiting at first friends and neighbours but eventually many other homes as well.
He said: "In the early days I often took a glass of sherry at most of the stops but I learned to only take a sip after nearly falling off the trailer one year.
"Now at my age I find it upsetting the way Christmas seems to have become so much more commercial and I'm trying to pass on some of the tips that I've learned from doing this for almost 50 years to the youngsters coming into the business. I teach them that even if they are sitting in the grotto for eight hours they have to treat every child like it's the first job of the day. And they should get the parents inside as well – part of the magic is sharing in the child's joy at meeting Santa not just for Santa himself but also for the parents. If that's not something you enjoy then you shouldn't doing the job."
He has even created his own webpage http://www.schoolforsantas.co.uk/ where he offers courses to new Santa's on the job.
He said: "I teach them all the lines like the cost of being a Santa - you've heard of parking payments at airports, we have to pay flight path fees," he said.
"And I won’t even start on the reindeer flight tax. With us living in Luton we have Luton airport to contend with so we have to figure out a new flight plan every year to avoid all the planes. It becomes very complicated."
But joking aside he said the most important thing to learn was how to teach trainee Santa's to always act in the spirit of Christmas.
He said: "Christmas is a very special time of year and the benefits of a good Christmas should be felt for a whole year – but that doesn't mean that it Christmas decorations need to be on sale for the whole year as well.
"As a Santa I feel people miss a lot from life, such as in the old days waiting for seasonal food and Christmas. A month is enough for Xmas - its enough for me to get ready - and it should be more than enough to buy the decorations."
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