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Sweden Has Won The Annual Santa Olympics

This year’s events included present-wrapping, tree-decorating, lasso-throwing, and a dance-off.

Everyone celebrates the holidays a little differently. While their countrymen 600 miles south in Gävle burn Christmas goat after Christmas goat, the good people of Gellivare, Sweden spent this past weekend lit aflame by something else—the competitive fire of the annual Santa Winter Games.

The Santa Winter Games, also known as the Santa World Cup and the Santa Olympics, finds wannabe Kringles from across the globe competing in various cutthroat, festive tasks. Although they insist that the tradition “began in the deep forest,” the Games are currently put on in the Gellivare town square, by the town’s tourism board.

Events this year included present-wrapping, tree-decorating, lasso-throwing (for reindeer, maybe?) and, of course, a dance-off. Past competitions have featured mechanical reindeer-riding, porridge-eating, and sled-pushing.

After 12 years of being trounced by Santas from elsewhere, Sweden’s home team—Santa Jocke and his helper, Santa Harmångernissen—got top honors this year. Silver went to Santas Jim and Johnny of China, while Santa Apple and Santa Kiwi of Hong Kong took third.

According to the Local, Jocke and Harmångernissen locked in their win by demonstrating some excellent jitterbugging in the dance-off. “It felt really great. It wasn’t at all what we had imagined,” Harmångernissen told Sveriges Radio after it had all sunk in.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.