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Here's how your kids can track Santa as he delivers all his gifts

I'm Parenting Editor at SheKnows. I'm the co-author of Let's Panic About Babies(Macmillan, 2011). I've also written for numerous publications including Salon, Redbook, Nerve, and The Onion. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, tiny d...

Countdown to Christmas with Google's Santa Tracker

It's official: Santa’s Village is now open to visitors. Well, Google’s Santa’s Village. It may not have actual elves, but it’s actually pretty cute.

To help us pass the time until Christmas, Google will update the site every day by unlocking a new experience. According to Tracy Hepler from Google Marketing North Pole: “From sliding penguins to dancing elves, the residents of the North Pole are having the time of their lives, and now you can join in the merriment.” There will be several new games in Santa’s Village, including four that will only be available on the Android app.

For Google's Computer Science Education Week, taking place Dec. 5 through 11, Google will unveil (sorry, “unwrap”) three coding games. There’s Code Boogie, for instance, in which you can help Santa’s elves learn dance moves. (Code Boogie kind of confused me — but then, I’m old, and most new things confuse me. And frighten me! But I digress.) 

Anyway, Santa’s Village is pretty cute, and sure to get your children revved up about the holidays. (Do they need to be more revved about the holidays?) The animation of Santa getting in shape for the big day is adorable. It’s all adorable.

More: Is Santa damaging our children? Hell, no

For teachers trying to keep kids’ attention throughout December, there’s an educator resource page. And for all ages, there’s a “traditions” page, on which we can learn about the curious holiday customs of other lands. For instance: 

“In Greece, friendly but troublesome creatures called ‘kallikantzari’ live most of the year in the center of the earth.” But at Christmas, they love to hide in people’s houses, frightening people, playing tricks, or devouring Christmas foods.” 

and: 

“At Christmas time in Iceland, families give gifts of warm clothing to each member of their household. According to legend, there is a frightening Christmas Cat who gobbles up anyone not equipped for the cold and wintery weather.” 

I pretty much stopped reading at that point because it seems like everyone’s traditions involve frightening and/or eating human beings. (OK, actually these were the only traditions that had anything dark in them. Thus, they were my favorites.) 

On the 24th, Google will be tracking Santa as he makes his way around the world. Whether you trust Google’s Santa Tracker more than NORAD’s is entirely your call.

More: The cutest letters to Santa you'll ever read

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