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Accept that we had a reason to go to Mars, managed to build a colony there, and what we found on Mars is valuable enough to ship back to Earth. There is now a self sustainable colony living under the domes, all made possible because we found out how to make water out of rocks and ice on Mars, and regular cargo ship transfers from Mars to Earth.

The colony has been in existence for more than 20 years and now the colonists have to deal with yet one more thing: Children and Christmas.

  • Does Santa make it from Earth's North Pole to Mars in time when we know that cargo supply ship makes it in half a year?
  • Do the reindeer survive in space?
  • Does Santa survive in space?
  • Will letters to Santa make it physically to Earth if we send them back on cargo ship?

Given the fact that Sol (=Mars day) duration is longer, and Mars year is also bit longer, when to celebrate Christmas?

And ultimately, Christmas started as Pagan festival of winter end. Would it make more sense to celebrate, say, dust-storm end on Mars?

P.S.: I know this question is on the edge of "too broad" and "opinion based", so if you feel like it should not be here, let me know, and I will remove it

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    $\begingroup$ I had to remove the science based tag...HAD TO. Great question though. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 4 '14 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm going to go with Dresden Files and say that Santa Claus is also Odin the All-Father. (Also Donar Vadderung, the CEO of Monoc Securities, which totally doesn't employ Valkyries and dead vikings, we promise.) Then I'm going to go with Thor and therefore Santa is an extradimensional alien. Presumably, Heimdall can use the Bifrost to give Santa access to Mars. =) $\endgroup$ – Brian S Dec 4 '14 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ It's been closed, but Space Exploration has a question Will Santa Claus deliver presents to Mars in 2025? which explores this question from another angle. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 5 '14 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @cHao I don't think so. For the English/American Christmas, the traditions have been chewed up and regurgitated so much that saying "there origin is in paganism" is like saying that I support Wotan because I use the word "Wednesday". $\endgroup$ – cwallenpoole Dec 7 '14 at 4:44
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    $\begingroup$ @cHao It is, to be frank, the equivalent of an etymological accident. It isn't dissimilar from people claiming that Easter is derived from Ishtar and therefore Easter is pagan. Easter may indeed be pagan, but it isn't because of Ishtar (who lends name to us Teutonics, everyone else calls it "pasch" or equivalent). Similarly Christian may be pagan (nothing said here has addressed that question) but saying that it is pagan because of Yule doesn't work. $\endgroup$ – cwallenpoole Dec 8 '14 at 16:00

12 Answers 12

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Since Santa's death fortress is based on the North Pole of Neptune, he shouldn't have too much trouble making it to Mars. He and all of his reindeer are robotic, so they won't have any trouble surviving in space.

I imagine that Santa probably wouldn't want to show up the same night as he does on Earth, since it takes time to give presents to all the good girls and boys and punish the naughty with extreme prejudice. (Hint: everyone was naughty.) Then again, he may be able to build a Martian Santa in his workshop to go to Mars in his place and spread holiday cheer and nerve gas.

I also imagine that if fuel to get to Mars is expensive, all of the winter holidays will be combined into one so he can carpool with Kwanzabot and the Chanukah Zombie.

I'm gonna shove coal so far up your stocking, you'll be coughing up diamonds!

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    $\begingroup$ -slow respectful clap- $\endgroup$ – Crabgor Dec 4 '14 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ Everyone was very naughty... except Zoidberg. $\endgroup$ – KSmarts Dec 4 '14 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ I see a robot. +1 $\endgroup$ – Pharap Dec 7 '14 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ What about krampus... Hes so warm and friendly! $\endgroup$ – tox123 Dec 17 '14 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the futurama reference. would be +2 if you find a way to fit a reference to hitchicker guide to galaxy... $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 17 '17 at 12:30
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Fun question!

I would expect at the start that Christmas would be celebrated when it happens back on Earth. As a species we'd all celebrate it at the same time (relatively). Meaning that Martians would likely celebrate it twice a (Martian) year. However, what happens as the colony ages and becomes more Martian things will likely change.

Some of the change would depend on if those on Mars keep the Earth calendar. Which I'm sure it would take more than 20 years to go away. But if there are seasons on Mars then the locals will have a Martian calendar to mark these events, if there isn't much, then likely they would space out holidays around the year to make merry.

For Christmas to stay 'as is' would likely require a reasonable sized bunch of Christians in the mix, but the idea of a season of gift giving would likely stay.

Now on to Santa.

Most likely Santa would move from Earth to one of the moons in the solar system, maybe one around Jupiter (Europa would be an excellent choice!). This way he can still 'be there watching for naughty and nice' but not be playing favorites to one group or another. He already has control of time and space so adding in another planet shouldn't be too hard. .

Of course the reindeer will survive the travels, they are obviously multidimensional beings and don't actually travel between locations so much as shift to the next house on the list!

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    $\begingroup$ "However, what happens as the colony ages and becomes more Martian things will likely change." - note that various events on Earth are not exactly synchronized with the calendar used in everyday life, just think of the Easter date, for example. I see no reason to believe that such events would be adapted to a Mars calendar; rather, I can see their heritage prevail when it comes to their date, so they might keep occurring at the same date as on Earth. $\endgroup$ – O. R. Mapper Dec 5 '14 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ @O.R.Mapper yep that's possible too. It partially depends on how Martian they become. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Dec 5 '14 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea of Santa being based on Neptune. The North Pole of Earth is' t exotic and unreachable anymore, and it will be open ocean so silly to have a base there. As a retcon with old classic tv, he could relocate just like various other coastal peoples did around the time of settlement. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Dec 10 '14 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ Just want to add that Christmas does not require Christians. Case in point: Japan celebrates Christmas even though Christianity is quite rare. What about Santa has anything to do with Christianity? $\endgroup$ – Mario Carneiro Dec 12 '14 at 11:58
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It depends on the colonist's world view.

Capitalist

can we do it more often? what maximizes profits?

Pagan

It should be during the winter solstice.

Catholic/Neo-pagan

approximately during the winter solstice is fine, just pick a date that works (by council decision).

Lutheran

December 25 as it is on earth. No exceptions.

Revivalist

If we contemplate the Hebrew calender, and take into account the barley harvest ...

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    $\begingroup$ I do like how the Lutherans are the ones who are insisting on the traditional in this model. $\endgroup$ – cwallenpoole Dec 7 '14 at 2:27
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In the southern hemisphere, for example in Australia, Christmas is celebrated in the summer. It wasn't moved to winter solstice. So I'd expect it to be the same on Mars. They would just use Earth calendar.

Also, Santa Claus is not a part of Christmas in most Christian countries. In many parts of Germany for example, the children are told that Jesus (the Christkind) brings the presents on December 24 (not December 25), while Santa Claus (St. Nikolaus) delivers his gifts on December 6.

But maybe they need to adjust their Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven" should become "Thy will be done, on Mars as it is in Heaven". :-)

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for referring to the gift-bringer as St Nikolaus. Though I'd like to mention that he is in fact Greek in origin: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas $\endgroup$ – Pharap Dec 7 '14 at 12:24
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Your question assumes that most of these new Martians are Christian in heritage and American or British in stock which, at least to me, seems questionable. Most of the world isn't Christian, and most of the Christian world does not celebrate Santa Claus.

As far as timing is concerned, I believe that it would likely be normalized to Earth time. Catholics have a tendency towards normalization, and the Orthodox are so rooted in tradition that they haven't adopted the Gregorian Calendar yet (and so Santa gets a two(?) week holiday between completing his different tasks). I see it likely that at most the Pope would need to issue an edict which basically standardizes practices to earth. For non-practicing or non-Christian in heritage, well, I think that if they celebrate Christmas they will follow suit. That is unless some culturally significant event happens which diverts the celebration to some other day.

Now, from a what-do-we-tell-the-children perspective, it might be possible to say that "Santa and his helpers deliver" or simply "Santa is magic/a miracle", but I don't really think that much further explanation is needed. After all, a clever child today might ask "how can Santa travel so fast as to reach every home?" and the only real answer is, "He can't. If Santa were really traveling so fast, he would be dead."

I will say that I think that a colony on Mars would end the traditional letter to Santa, but I don't think that is something which is held too dearly in mosts' hearts. And anyway, snail-mail is not the only way to get your list to St. Nick.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for stripping away the British/American assumption. As for how St. Nicholaus is able to travel so fast, a reasonable explanation would be that he has mastered temporal manipulation and is able to tap into the power of black holes to bend his light cone and travel as near to the speed of light as physically possible. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Dec 7 '14 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Pharap In which case he would easily be able to travel to Mars, Jupiter, or any of the other planets. $\endgroup$ – cwallenpoole Dec 8 '14 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ To all the other colonies on the other planets that the kids will found in the future. That's just about as poetic as sci-fi can get. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Dec 8 '14 at 18:44
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Considering that a Mars colony would be mostly self-sufficient and have few contact with Earth, it would soon develop its own culture with its own holidays based on the Martian calendar.

The earth calendar is based on day-cycles and season-cycle as they occur on Earth, because these have a large impact on our daily life. But on Mars, the current light conditions and temperature on Earth are completely irrelevant. It is much more imporatant to pay attention to the Martian day-cycle and season-cycle. That means that Martian settlers would soon lose their attachment to the Earth calendar and would instead get attached to a date- and time-keeping which is based on Martian days and years.

Regular celebrations would then also be scheduled according to the Martian calendar. So they would likely celebrate (their equivalent to?) Christmas every 668 mars-days (~686 earth-days).

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    $\begingroup$ Exactly. Any seasonal events would be according to seasons of their own planet, including day and year. And children trained since little tykes to NEVER leave protection of the domes without a skafander will need different myths to help them deal with different reality. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Dec 4 '14 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if this is true. The Martian day is just over 24 hours long, so no problem adapting to day and night there, but people in Australia celebrate Christmas even though it is the middle of Summer. They've had more than 20 years to adapt. I don't think Martian seasons will have anything to do with it, especially since Winter could be described as bloody cold and deadly outside, and Summer as bloody cold and deadly outside. $\endgroup$ – IchabodE Dec 4 '14 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ You really think the traditions would be gone in 1-2 generations (timeframe of under a century implied by the "over 20 years" in OP)? Australia hasn't ditched them in 20+... sure Mars is more different than Australia, but people aren't. $\endgroup$ – Smithers Dec 4 '14 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ Because what programmers really need is another calendar to deal with... While synchronising the clock to the planets rotation is useful so that day and night happens at the same time every day, synchronising the calendar to a full orbit of the planet is less useful then just keeping Earth's years. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Dec 5 '14 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ "Regular celebrations would then also be scheduled according to the Martian calendar." - I doubt that. We haven't scheduled quite some regular celebrations according to the calendar we use in our daily lives here on Earth, either, and instead sometimes tend to use a date based on the date system the events originated from. $\endgroup$ – O. R. Mapper Dec 5 '14 at 13:50
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I'm not sure if artificial holidays will maintain themselves, but since you are working in a short time frame (20 years is same generation) then most definately, Santa will live on. If you spanned the question to several generations, local mars tradition would start to arise. They may align with Earth holidays (this is due to convenience, kinda how the Canadian 'Family day' holiday aligns with 'Presidents day' in the US'), but they'll start to take on a local twist once you have people who never knew life on Earth start being the primary constituents of Mars.

Since your questions revolves around 20 years...then of course, colonists won't be quick to give up their ties to Earth and will readily celebrate holidays in line with the day it occurs on Earth. As it sits, Santa has barely milliseconds at each child's house before moving on and is a fantastical wonder, not a statement of fact. Websites tracking his 'movements' around Earth during Christmas eve (supposed 'satellite' shots of the jolly man) are out there...I can see someone creating a 'radar journy' of Santa's trek from Earth to Mars after his job on earth is done pretty readily as well.

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Isaac Asimov wrote a great short story about Christmas on Ganymede which is not only fun with the Earthmen acting out the mythology because the natives they are trying to get along with thought it was some very important Earth thing, but has a twist at the end: the natives think it happens every orbit around Jupiper, or once a week!

In other parts of the world, Santa (if he is used at all) doesn't always live at the north pole, though that has spread in parallel since TV. So some variation might be more realistic. Also, look how fast the mythology has grown and changed: Santa's red suit came from Coca Cola (it was green before); the appearance drawn by cartoonist Nast; the Visit poem in 1823; Rudolph was invented in 1939 and went viral in 1949. My parents celebrated Christmas for several years before Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer even existed.

So, the children born on Mars will know the myth however their parents present it to them. The smart folks in the first wave will invent their own spin on things, toung in cheek, to fit their own culture. The youngest kids won't understand logistics etc but have their small and simple world model to work with.

Point is, it can change rapidly like fashion, not slow like more serious issues that more stricly follow their parents' way but for small mutations.

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Does Santa make it from Earth's North Pole to Mars in time when we know that cargo supply ship makes it in half a year?

Of course! To cover each time zone fully on Earth within one midnight hour, place every gift, etc., Santa must be able to travel faster than the speed of light and slower to stop and place the gifts: which we know to be impossible with physics. Therefore he is dropping in and out of an alternative universe(s) on Christmas Eve. Our physical space doesn't matter much, so it could be Mars or wherever.

Do the reindeer survive in space?

In order to survive the speeds, temperatures, and stresses of their current tasks, they most certainly have the biology to survive in space.

Does Santa survive in space?

Same as above.

Will letters to Santa make it physically to Earth if we send them back on cargo ship?

They just need to be sent back in time to reach before Earth's December 25!

And actually, given the fact that Sol (=Mars day) duration is longer, and Mars year is also bit longer, when to celebrate Christmas?

I live in the Middle East, and celebrate Christmas when my family or home-town does. Others celebrate it when their particular cultural hearth celebrates it (for example, Eastern Orthodox celebrate it on the date (Jan 7?) on Earth; I would guess that if it's Earth Dec 25, but Mars MNovemeber 49th (or whatever), it would be celebrated on MNovember 49th.

And ultimately, Christmas started as Pagan festival of winter end. Would it make more sense to celebrate, say, dust-storm end on Mars?

Australians celebrate it on the 25th of December even though it's the middle of Summer. So I think Martians would celebrate it on Earth's 25th of December as well. They get two Christmaes a year! Each 365(ish) days apart, though.

Enjoy!

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As you said it is very broad question.
I think it will all depends at several factors. As long as New Martians will be using Earth calendar, Commander Santa will be visiting Mars in his big spaceship piloted by Rudolph The Reindeer

But after several decades, colonies will have their own holidays, so who knows, maybe where will be no Xmas anymore, and gifts will be dropped by ET?

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    $\begingroup$ Yea, maybe Roudolf Reindeer will be a Navajo decendant astrogator, and the idea that he was an actual animal in the 20th century will give them a laugh. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Dec 10 '14 at 9:26
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In my experience, peoples tend to accumulate holidays, very few go away. Arbor day will probably fall by the wayside but despite the fact that (to my knowledge) the entire world uses the Gregorian calendar on a day-to-day basis, we still celebrate Chinese New Year, Rosh Hashanah and in Russia, 'Old New Year'.

Mars will certainly have its own holidays, e.g. Diaspora Day to celebrate when the first permanent human colony landed, Federation Day, when the first Martian Constitution is ratified. These will likely follow a Martian calendar and recur every 668 Martian days.

But Earthly holidays will follow Earthly dates. Chinese New Year will still occur based on the Lunar calendar (which will make no sense to a second generation Martian, let me tell you), if the 20 year old settlement is primarily American, they will celebrate Labor Day based on Earth's day and time, and regardless of origin, Christmas will be December 25th back home.

As far as the logistics go, I think the family will be sitting around an artificial tree and electric heater (no open flames!) typing up an email to Santa. I bet that the corporations sponsoring these fledgeling colonies (likely more than one, and yes, still fledgeling after a mere 20 years) will ensure that Santa's presence (presents?) is felt.

Santa will probably have to ditch the reindeer though. I bet he gets an upgrade with his sleigh acting more like a Tardis. Santa has had to evolve with the times. We have a gas fireplace at home, and therefore no chimney, but Santa still finds his way in. He has thus far avoided setting off our security system in doing so as well.

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    $\begingroup$ One thing I like about interracial marraige is we get twice as many holidays. Perogi and kasha for one, Moon Cakes for another. Sometimes I even make up one to see if she can tell. So now on March 14 we eat only round foods (cheezeburgers with onion rings - no frys). $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Dec 10 '14 at 9:22
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On Earth, the traditional Chinese and Jewish calendars have years which are sometimes 12 months long, and sometimes 13 months long, because instead of dividing the solar year into 12 parts to get a month, they use the unrelated cycle of the Moon's phases for the month. (This uses the Metonic cycle, where 19 years contain 12 years of 12 months, and 7 years of 13 months.)

So it's perfectly possible for colonists on Mars to use a calendar that, say, divides the year into 22 months some years, and into 23 months other years, on the same principle - with the Earth solar month of 1/12 of the Earth year used to define the length of the Martian month. Here, there would be a cycle of 7 Martian years, three of which are 22 months long, and four of which are 23 months long - at least as the first approximation; one would eventually have to add or take away a leap month to keep things in sync.

So they could celebrate Christmas every 12 months, and keep in sync with people on Earth. This would also simplify paychecks and rents and age qualifications for voting across the two planets.

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