Some just cannot get enough Christmas. The few weeks of December that precede this holiday aren’t enough while they play Christmas songs in May and shop for gifts in August. A great place for Christmas enthusiasts is Rovaniemi, Finland, a city of 60,000 located 500 miles north of Helsinki and 4 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Not only is this community viewed by many as Santa Claus’s official hometown, but he and this holiday are celebrated here throughout the year.
These Christmas celebrations even take place at Keskuskenttä, a 2,800-seat multi-purpose stadium that is home to FC Santa Claus. This amateur soccer team competes in the Kolmonen, the fourth level of the Finnish soccer pyramid. The club was founded in 1993 and has bounced between the third and fourth levels ever since. Its best season was 2010, which is when the club finished in first place in Group C of the Kakkonen.
But the team’s successes and failures on the field is not what garners it attention from throughout the world. What does is its unique name, which was decided upon when this team was formed after two clubs merged. One of its founders, Tarho Iljin, first brought up the possible name, and it didn’t take long for everybody to agree on it. Another suggestion from Iljin also prompted the city’s Hotel Santa Claus to go by that name.
However, the new soccer team’s name had to be approved by Santa Claus himself. Fortunately, that only warranted a 5-mile trip to Santa Claus Village, which is located to the northeast of central Rovaniemi. “They are all very good friends of mine, so I gave them my name to use,” Santa later told FourFourTwo magazine. He added in that interview that all of his other obligations preclude him from being more than a figurehead for the club.