The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions have resulted in a record low demand for professional Santas this season.
Matti Väkeväinen, president of the Finnish Santa Claus Association (Suomalainen Joulupukkiyhdistys ry) told Iltalehti on Thursday that the situation looks bleak, as Santas have been unable to find work even at conventionally reliable engagements such as office parties and shopping malls.
Those that do find gigs have to follow strict safety and hygiene protocols, which include wearing masks and thick gloves indoors and avoiding handshakes. They must also maintain social distancing, particularly when distributing gifts. Shorter visits are recommended to reduce the risk of exposure.
In Finland, Santa Claus traditionally visits children at their homes during Christmas, handing out gifts and treats. Families often hire a professional to play the beloved character.
It is likely that this tradition will be kept alive this year, albeit with a slight twist. A growing number of families are opting for virtual greetings from Santa, with many requesting that the gifts be left outside the front door.