We won't sugarcoat it: The tradition of children leaving out milk and cookies for Santa Claus isn't an easy one to trace.
Lew Robertson/Getty Images
December 22, 2015 Turns out the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa hasn't left much of a trail of crumbs to trace through history. But it might start with the early cookies of 13th-century Europe.
A trade card from the 1880s depicts a Santa Claus figure in a bird-themed sleigh pulled by reindeer as they are about the land on a rooftop to deliver presents from the huge sack of gifts.
December 19, 2015 In 1875, Mark Twain wrote a letter to his 3-year-old daughter from Santa Claus. NPR's Scott Simon reflects on a father's love for his daughter at Christmas time.
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Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the "Santa Colonel." He died in 2009.
Courtesy of NORAD
December 19, 2014 It all started in 1955 with a misprint in a Colorado newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret military hotline. Shoup played along with the tiny voice who called, and a tradition was born.
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The view Friday morning on NORAD's "Santa Tracker."
North American Aerospace Defense Command
December 24, 2013 Critics — some might say Grinches — don't like the defense command's annual online effort to "track" Santa's travels. But for those who wish to follow his journey, the high-tech tool is up and running.
Is propagating the Santa myth a healthy way to extend the magic of childhood, or a recipe for psychological damage and distrust?
December 23, 2013 Hoping to incorporate some celebration of science into this year's festivities? Commentator Tania Lombrozo offers three unusual suggestions for spicing up your Christmas holiday.
Aside from the traditional plate of cookies, some households planned to leave Santa gourmet surprises that would land most people on the naughty list at the local gym.
December 24, 2012 Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.
Science says Santa's been tricking us with that reindeer stuff.
Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images
December 24, 2012 That jolly old elf has fooled NORAD, Google and others trying to track him, says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The "science of Santa" makes the most sense if you figure he's getting to the homes of good girls and boys via wormholes, not down the chimneys.
They'll see him when he's flying.
December 22, 2011 Assuming his elves haven't come up with some sort of stealth technology to cloak his movements, it's almost time again for children of all ages to follow the jolly guy's travels thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
December 21, 2011 Christmas, with flying reindeer and a bright shining star announcing the coming of Jesus is a time when myth and science intersect. Can science explain some of the Christmas myths?
The Scottsdale Gun Club says it got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa.
November 30, 2011 Arizona gun enthusiasts can pose, with their weapons, for a holiday snapshot with Santa. They say they're just showing off their love of firearms. A local legislator says it's heresy.
December 22, 2010 There is a surprising number of grown-ups that believe we never landed on the moon. Maybe they should believe in Santa Claus as well.
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