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Santas warm up for Christmas in Sweden's far north

Published on Nov 18, 2012 10:21 AM
 
Winner of Santa Claus Winter Games, Dutch Santa Claus "Santa Holland" (centre), second placed "Santa Rainbow" from Hong Kong and third place Estonian Santa Claus "Santa Aare" pose in Gallivare, above the polar circle in northern Sweden on Nov 17, 2012. Christmas cheer came early to Sweden's Arctic mining town of Gaellivare this weekend, where Santas from around the world gathered to compete in one of the world's most important but little known sporting events, the Santa Winter Games. -- PHOTO: AFP

GAELLIVARE, Sweden (AFP) - Christmas cheer came early to Sweden's Arctic mining town of Gaellivare this weekend, where Santas from around the world gathered to compete in one of the world's most important but little known sporting events, the Santa Winter Games.

"We're getting into shape before delivering all the Christmas presents and we want to make all the children happy today," said the only Mother Christmas taking part in the competition, who travelled from France and donned her red suit to compete for the second year in a row.

The nine competitors and their elves paraded Saturday through the Lapland town of Gaellivare, located 100km inside the Arctic Circle, to the site of the competition in the town's centre.

Japan's Santa Claus was accompanied by three human reindeer, who, in a gracious display of Christmas spirit, agreed to pull the sleigh of the local Santa also competing in the event.

 
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