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Expat Stories: Santa Claus

The man himself talks reindeer, recruitment, and relocating to the North Pole.

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Welcome back to Expat Stories. Usually, we chat to members of the Mauve Group team, to discuss their experiences of relocating and life as an ex-pat. However, in this month’s instalment, we have a special guest – international icon and long-time Mauve Group client, Santa Claus. Santa joins us to chat about his experience relocating to the North Pole.

Welcome, Santa! Please tell us a little about yourself and what made you move to the North Pole?

Well, I’m Santa Claus, but you may know me as Sinterklaas or Old St. Nick. According to the history books I peruse in my spare time, I was born in the seaport of Patara, Lycia, which is now Turkey. But as it was in the year 270, I’m afraid I’ve rather forgotten most of the vital details!

I vaguely recall moving from Turkey to Alicante, Spain where I’m still the patron saint, and take part in the Sinterklaas celebrations each year, as I do in the Netherlands and several other places.

I travelled to the United States in the early 1800s and put down roots in New York, or New Amsterdam as it was known then. While I was there, I befriended a cartoonist named Thomas Nast who kindly produced some illustrations of me for Harper’s Weekly. It was he who suggested I might find a home in the North Pole, and he was right!

I tagged along on one of the Arctic expeditions that were popular at the time and fell in love with the glistening white wonderland I found there. The lovely Mrs Claus felt the same, so we upped sticks and moved!

What a life, Santa! That’s amazing. Can you tell us a bit more about what drew you to the North Pole, from a business perspective?

I felt the North Pole would be the perfect spot to establish my toy making enterprise, as there was a strong talent pool of local toymakers among the elfin community. Before, Mrs Claus and myself were working our fingers to the bone making the toys ourselves and we had decided it was time to expand our business. We didn’t have such as a thing as an Employer of Record back then, so any workforce we wanted to hire had to be local!

Moving North also allowed us to take on a fleet of rare flying reindeer. You may have heard of them. They’ve gained a fairly significant following in their own right, amassing millions of followers on RikDok – that’s reindeer TikTok. Anyway, they form a brilliant team, and they’ve really allowed me to optimise my time on Christmas Eve, in order  to reach children all around the world. Before I worked with flying reindeer, I was travelling on horseback and via steamboat, and it just wasn’t as efficient.

Once you decided you were going to move North, how did you prepare for relocation?

Well, as a saint and magical entity, I have general freedom of movement. So, I didn’t have to worry too much about visas or immigration paperwork, which saved a lot of hassle.

And Mrs Claus?

Oh, Mrs Claus’ grandmother was an elf from the North Pole. So, she actually had elfin citizenship already, which was most convenient!

What we did need to do was ensure that we followed all local protocol pertaining to the establishing of a new business in the North Pole. It was important to adhere to all the employment legislation in the North Pole, and make sure that we smoothly and compliantly onboarded our workforce. We could’ve done with the support of a business like Mauve Group back then! It was a lot of work, but it paid off!

As I’m originally from Turkey, I’m not built for the cold, which is something people forget about me! I had to have some new red suits made before the move, as the ones I was wearing previously just weren’t going to cut it up North. The suits I wear now are lined and windproof and imbued with the warmth of Christmas spirit, to keep me toasty during long days at the workshop and, of course, over Christmas while I fly around the world.

What was the most challenging aspect of relocation?

Moving to a new place always presents challenges. The cold was one thing I had trouble getting used to, even with my new suits! There was also the issue of language. As I do have some magical abilities, I am able to speak a certain amount of any language. But working all day, every day - with a workforce comprised entirely of elves - meant I needed to really brush up and become proficient in the elfin language.

Time management was also something I needed to get the hang of, in order  to guarantee that all the presents would be ready and wrapped in time for Christmas! We had some close shaves the first few years, and nearly didn’t get everything ready! But we’ve definitely improved as time has gone on.

Navigating the skies on Christmas Eve must be quite a feat. I know you’ve stated you don’t need to worry about visa issues when moving from country to country, but are there any other issues you need to take into account?

Well, I may not have to worry about visa issues, but my workers do! I always take along two or three of my employees, to help me unload the gifts. So, we work with global workforce solutions provider Mauve Group, to ensure that their paperwork is processed compliantly and ahead of time – which ensures a smooth, hassle-free entry into and exit from each country.

Mauve Group has been a great support since its inception 27 years ago. Prior to that, we’d gotten into a few tight squeezes trying to get in and out of countries and airspace on time!

How do you prepare for the big journey each year?

The first thing I do is I ring my Account Manager at Mauve, to make sure that everything is in order for the journey, compliance-wise, and iron out any last details. I generally eat very lightly the day before, to leave room for all the lovely treats that children leave out for me. It’s hungry work!

Thank you, Santa Claus, for sharing your experiences of relocation with us, and best of luck with this year’s festivities! Follow Mauve Group on our social platforms such as LinkedIn and YouTube to stay up-to-date. And follow Santa’s reindeer on RikDok!

If your organisation is looking to expand overseas and requires visa and immigration supportget in touch with our team of experts to learn how our global HR solutions could help your organisation.