How Does Santa Do It?

ByABC News via logo
December 22, 2000, 4:25 PM

Dec. 25 -- How does he do it? Santa Claus visits homes all over the world on Christmas Eve, but when you consider how many homes there are, how little time he has, and how much he has to carry that is when you truly appreciate jolly old St. Nick.

ABCNEWS Robert Krulwich started the Santa investigation with a simple question: How many stops must Santa make?

There are 2.2 billion children under 18 on the planet. But since most Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children do not expect a visit from Santa, 85 percent of the 2.2 billion kids get taken off the list.

At this point, the math gets a little difficult, so Krulwich turned to a Stuyvesant High School teacher in New York City for help. Physics teacher Stanley Teitel assumes there might be 2.5 kids in each home on Santas list. In those homes, there is probably at least one good kid. This is where the math gets really difficult.

OK, were assuming that there are approximately 132 times 10 to the sixth, thats 132 million Christian homes worldwide, Teitel said.

The next question is: How much time does Santa actually have to do this job?

Well, if the 132 million homes are evenly distributed around the surface of the Earth and if Santa heads west in a kind of random, zigzag pattern across 24 time zones constantly staying in darkness as much as he can hed cover about 175 million land miles. The oceans dont count, since fish dont get gifts. He would have about 31 hours to do it. Thats 1,178 homes per second, Teitel said. Every second he must hit 1,178 homes.

So when Santa arrives at each home, he has a scant 8/100,000 of a second to park the sleigh, heave himself down the chimney, fill the stockings, take care of the tree, eat the cookies, drink the milk, head back up the chimney and get back on the sled.

And the scene repeats itself every second. And Santa wouldnt be Santa if he wasnt carrying a huge sack of toys. If each child gets one toy, averaging 2 pounds each, that must be multiplied by 330 million children.