When faced with cancelling events due to Covid-19, it could not be accepted that Father Christmas couldn’t come to children in Hlebine.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This is how one family thinks during the time of lockdown. Without running events, there were no visitors and no income. But they didn’t want to accept “closed and cancelled” as an option, so they thought hard and used IT and online social services to bring Father Christmas and St. Nickolas to every home. Father Christmas himself is, of course, immortal and as old as the first child who believed, so the family put their heads together and put the event online.

Father Christmas/St. Nickolas, and two busy elves with their little helper, produced really creative content and broadcast live from Father Christmas’ home. Without too long for planning and preparation, and without access to expensive professional equipment, they made this huge step forward to deliver an online live show. Every evening from 1-19 December at 19.00 (CET) they broadcast live on the Facebook page for Stari zanati. In between shows, they brushed up their tech skills and thought about how Santa’s home could adapt and survive in the middle of a pandemic. They wanted to keep the Christmas spirit alive in every home, because every child (and adult) needs magic in their lives.

During the live programme, Petra and Ervin the elves created magic with storytelling, online workshops, songs, plays, interesting guests and many surprises. They showed some old school games like hopscotch, rope jumping, rubber band jumping, and presented how to make beautiful ornaments and other things to try at home. Lovers of old customs and skills saw how to make horseshoes, clay baked dishes and jugs for souring milk, or how wicker corn baskets were made. In this unusual Hlebine’s Christmas Workshop, various traditional toys were created, such as cars, planes, trains, horses, ducks, knights’ swords, axes and shields. They even baked Christmas cookies. The elves also opened the Father Christmas post office. Every day, busy elves read out letters received from children and asked children to take action and write letters, and to be creative and share their stories on Facebook. The workshop also hosted three masters of Hlebine naive art: Branko Matina, Stjepan Pongrac and Zlatko Kolarek.

Father Christmas was played by Tihomir Želimorski, who attend an IE CIG training course last year, where he realised the importance of bringing heritage to consumers. So, instead of putting everything on hold this year, he become even more creative and brought the beauty of the love, warmth and real Christmas spirit to every home over the internet.

Elizabeta Milanović Glavica is a university specialist in tourism and hospitality management from Koprivnica, Croatia. She works for the Central Podravina Tourist Board (tzp-sredisnja-podravina.hr). She is a member of Interpret Croatia and is an IE Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) and is the IE Tourism Coordinator. She can be contacted at: elizabeta.milanovic@interpret-europe.net or elizabeta.milanovic@gmail.com.

To cite this article: Milanović Glavica, Elizabeta (2020) ‘Father Christmas goes online in Hlebine’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2020, 28.

Available online: https://www.interpret-europe.net/fileadmin/Documents/publications/Newsletters/IE_newsletter_2020_4_winter.pdf