Christmas Day is still 23 days away, but Google and NORAD have both launched their Santa Claus tracker apps and websites, which provide children with an immersive opportunity to follow St. Nick and his reindeers' path around the globe. Featuring countdown clocks to Santa's flight on Christmas Eve, a host of games that reveal themselves each day of the month, map features so tykes can see where he is as the holiday nears, as well as other educational and entertaining features for kids and their families, the Santa trackers have become wildly popular in recent years.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker is the original and better known of the two options. Created in 1955 as a telephone hotline providing holiday cheer, the NORAD Santa Tracker has become a tradition, as children and parents alike use the site and its mobile apps to engage with Christmas in fun ways.
Featuring video offerings, music, a gift shop and a new video game every day, the NORAD Santa Tracker site -- aka Santa's Village -- is the headquarters of all of NORAD's Christmas offerings, though eager users can also follow along on the tracker's official Twitter account.
"Since [the 1950s], NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world," the NORAD Santa Tracker explainer site reads. "In addition, we now track Santa using the Internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website."
The agency, which since 1958 has served as the binational air defense command for the U.S. and Canada, goes on to explain that it uses radar, satellites, "ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras" -- or Santacams -- and jet fighters to track Santa Claus' Yuletide journey.
The Google Santa Tracker is a much newer addition to the tradition, but it has gained a following quickly with its easy-to-use interface and cool features, which include a countdown ticker, games and other new offerings each day.