Jolly old St. Nick sure knows how to make an entrance. Santa Claus created his own trend when he first decided that the most efficient way to sneak into a house while the kids were "all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads" was to slide on down the chimney with a red velvet sack of toys, keeping the reindeer and sleigh parked on the roof as he dropped off his gifts.
However, fewer and fewer houses are now being built with chimneys, and there are other cultures and regions without chimneys that still partake in this age-old tradition. But that brings up a question that all of the children want to know -- how does Santa get inside the houses without chimneys?!
Seeing as Santa Claus has a magical way of knowing who has been naughty and who has been nice all year, you shouldn't be surprised to find out that he also has a magical ring of keys that can open any door to any house, apartment and building in the world. Well, that's what's being heard through the grapevine, anyway. In fact, sometimes Santa doesn't even need a ring of keys because he has one very special key that does it all. Of course, sometimes he can forget the keys (silly Santa) because he has so much to do on that one special night! So instead, he reaches into his pockets where he keeps a handful of magical sparkle dust given to him by his special helpers, and sprinkles it onto the windows so they open. Then he hops inside and gets to work.
Chimneys aren't needed in other parts of the world, either. In Iceland, children leave an empty shoe on the windowsills in their bedrooms during the 12 days of Christmas. The shoes are filled with small gifts -- some edible and some not -- and opened in the morning.
In Italy, there's no Santa to worry about letting in in the first place, considering presents are distributed by a kind witch named La Befana. According to legend, she was asked by the three kings to accompany them to see baby Jesus. She declined their offer but later regretted it. From there, the story has two alternate explanations as to why she distributes the gifts to Italian children. One is that she was given the gift-giving power by baby Jesus himself, the other is that she never found baby Jesus and so continues her quest to do so while leaving gifts to children along the way.
Germans celebrate their Christmas on Dec. 6, and the night before, they prepare by leaving pairs of boots outside of their front door. Santa distributes presents in the boots, so long as the children have behaved all year. However, if they haven't, their boots will be empty the following morning.
Sweden celebrates their Christmas, which they refer to as St. Lucia Day, on Dec. 13. The story of St. Lucia is that she was a young martyr who was killed by the Romans for her Christian beliefs back in 304. As the legend goes, she was also responsible for bringing Christianity to Sweden and wore a white robe with candles on her head to light the way. Therefore, families have their daughters and young female relatives dress as St. Lucia to celebrate her bravery. They spend the day together sharing good food and good company.
India celebrates Christmas as well, but they require less attention from Santa since their tradition is to go out to shops on Christmas Eve with their families and loved ones and purchase gifts (generally clothing or shoes) for themselves. They share baked goods with their neighbors by exchanging their delightful meals as gifts for each other.
Overall, there are so many creative ways for Santa to get into your house, your apartment, your condo, your tent or whatever abode you choose to call home. Of course, parents can help share these with their children, as each home has it's own special entrance for Santa. And really, Santa's pretty laid-back -- well, as long as you leave out his favorite cookies with a tall glass of milk!