Santa's workshop is the workshop where Santa Claus is said to make the toys and presents given out at Christmas. In Santa Claus mythology, the "workshop" is a sprawling commune located at the North Pole or in Lapland. In addition to housing the factory where toys are either manufactured or distributed by the elves, the complex also houses the residence of Santa Claus, his wife, companions and all of the reindeer.
In the 20th century it became common during December in large shops or department stores to have a "cavern" in which an actor dressed up as Santa Claus would give gifts to children. Grottos can be large walk-through fantasy cavern-like areas incorporating animatronic characters such as elves and pantomime characters. This tradition started in Britain in 1879 and then extended in the 1890s to Australian and American department stores seeking to attract customers.
The world's first Christmas grotto was in Lewis's Bon Marche Department Store in Liverpool, England. The grotto was opened in 1879, entitled "Christmas Fairyland". A staple of Liverpool's festive season, many generations first visited Father Christmas here, with the final displays covering over 10,000 square feet (930 m2). The Grotto has now moved to St. Johns Market, St. Johns Shopping Centre (Liverpool, UK), after being saved by Entrepreneur Guy Fennell in 2017. The Grotto now runs by the name 'Liverpool's Famous Grotto'. Shopping malls have also setup interactive exhibits.
In Adelaide, South Australia, the first "Magic Cave" was set up in 1896 at the John Martin's department store on Rundle Street. An annual store-sponsored parade, Adelaide Christmas Pageant, was initiated in 1933 during which Father Christmas was conducted to the Magic Cave to formally herald the holiday season. Since the closure of John Martin's, the David Jones stores, have continued the tradition of the Magic Cave but no where near to the extent John Martin's did, in Adelaide as well as in other Australian capitals while the annual South Australia parade marked its 75th anniversary in 2007.
Nowadays department stores and shopping centres in the UK still host Santa's Grottos.
It is traditional that the children receive a toy from Father Christmas upon visiting his Grotto be it in a shopping mall or a little garden centre. Grottos are sometimes free and sometimes they charge parents to let their kids see Santa and receive a surprise gift.
A themed attraction in Santa Claus, Indiana, named Santa's Candy Castle emulates the traditional depiction of Santa's workshop. There is also a Santa's Workshop amusement park in North Pole, New York. The world's oldest theme park, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari was known as "Santa Claus Land" prior to 1984 and is in Santa Claus, Indiana as well.
In 1879, Thomas Nast revealed to the world in a series of drawings that Santa's workshop is at the North Pole (specifically the North Magnetic Pole, due to the aurora borealis being centered on it and the fact that the workshop was on land, properties that at the time described the magnetic pole [which was under the Canadian Arctic Archipelago at the time; the magnetic pole has since drifted off to sea] but not the geographic one). The Canada Post postal code for the workshop is H0H 0H0. The United States Postal Service recommends mail to Santa's workshop be sent to North Pole, Alaska, ZIP code 99705; it also redirects letters to Santa to a facility in Santa Claus, Indiana.
Each Nordic country also claims Santa's workshop to be located on their territories. Norway claims he lives in Drøbak. In Denmark, he is said to live in Greenland (near Uummannaq). In Sweden, the town of Mora has a theme park named "Santaworld". The national postal terminal in Tomteboda in Stockholm receives children's letters for Santa. In Finland, Korvatunturi has long been known as Santa's home, and two theme parks, Santa Claus Village and Santa Park are located at the Arctic Circle in the municipality of Rovaniemi.
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