Rest assured, December 25 is still a long way off on the calendar. But the process of recruiting Santas, elves and fairies for corporate events and shopping centres is already well underway. What are the requirements to be able to don the mythical scarlet suit and the long snow-white beard? Victor Gaudreault, director of the Agence des pères Noël professionnels du Québec (APNPQ), explains how he makes the magic happen.
“All the Santas I recruit think they are the real Santa Claus,” begins Victor Gaudreault, who has worked with these happy characters for thirty years.
As you may have guessed, embodying St. Nicholas is no small matter. It’s a vocation. From November 1 to January 5, this character is called upon for all sorts of corporate events, from Christmas gift giving events at the CHSLD to the Santa Claus village in the shopping centres.
But before sitting on the prestigious throne, each worker goes first through a recruitment process.
For Victor Gaudreault, recruitment of Santa Clauses begins in June, especially in areas far from Montreal. But it’s really on Labour Day in September that the search gets into high gear.
Once applications have been received, he makes sure that they tick certain boxes:
“The person has to have a passion for Christmas. They have to love children, want to spread the magic of Christmas and be dreamy,” he says.
“Everyone who sends in their application to the agency to become a Santa Claus is subjected to an investigation by the Sûreté du Québec to make sure they do not have a criminal record,” the director of the APNPQ insists.
Those who aspire to become a Santa Clause also have to expect to work weekends, when their presence is most called for.
Just one day of training is needed to embody the potbellied man.
“We teach them how to do the “Ho, Ho, Ho!”. They learn to take children on their knees, how to sit on the chair, and, most importantly, the smile,” he says.
As nothing should be left to chance, the future Santa Clauses are also taught how to put on the suit to hide details like tattoos, for example.
“Children are very bright. If there is the slightest detail that doesn’t fit the real Santa Claus, it can be enough to break the magic,” he says.
Victor Gaudreault is also very proud of his Santa Claus costumes, especially the quality of the new types of white beards that he believes are “very realistic”.
The most important thing about this job, he believes, is to transmit the magic of this holiday and spread happiness. “With all the bad things happening, we need Santa Clauses to do good to people…”