Tradition-seeking Germany faces Santa shortage

Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:21am EST
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By Josie Cox

BERLIN (Reuters) - Wanted: Cheerful, chubby men, preferably with fluffy white beards and no criminal record, ready to work hard for one month.

Germany is running out of qualified Santa Clauses and needs to recruit and train them fast, a leading job agency says.

Germans are trying to shut out the financial crisis by taking comfort in traditional festivities, and there is an acute shortage of Santas to entertain children at shopping centers, Christmas markets and private parties.

"Being Santa is not an easy job," Jens Wittenberger, in charge of Santa Claus recruitment at the Jobcafe Munich, told Reuters on Monday. "To be honest, not many people have what it takes to be a good Father Christmas."

The job center wants its Santas to be child-friendly, good organizers, reliable and have acting skills. They also need a clean police record.

"You can't have your Santa drive up in a car," said Wittenberger. "Every child knows that Santa travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeer so we don't want to disappoint anybody." Santas are told to park their car a few streets away and walk.

"People are turning to traditions to protect their children from the 'evils of the real world', especially in the wake of this financial turmoil," Wittenberger said.

Recruitment sessions are being held in cities across the country, and while the job may be stressful, it's better than being jobless, Wittenberger said.

"Santas can make up to 60 euros ($75) an hour," he said. "That's not bad, is it?"

(Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Tim Pearce)