This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.
Given the fact that Santa Claus has so much to do in such a short period of time, every Christmas he hires people to dress up like him and help spread the holiday cheer. At least, that's what Marian Fedel tells children who doubt he's the real deal.
Since 2013, Fedel has worked for the Berlin Studierendenwerk—an agency that helps students in Berlin find work. In 2016, the company set up almost 230 students with Santa placements at both children and corporate events. "I can earn up to $700 on Christmas Eve alone," Fedel says.
Alongside his part-time job, the 26-year-old is currently studying for his master's in international business and consulting. Between lectures, I spoke to him about the trials and tribulations of keeping the magic of Christmas alive.
VICE: Do you ever feel bad about lying to children?
Fedel: Absolutely not. It’s always beautiful to meet kids who still believe in Santa. For me, that's what the magic of Christmas is all about. Over the years, I’ve come up with so many stories to tell kids who are getting older and are starting to doubt that Santa's real. For example, I tell them that Santa can't deliver all the gifts on his own, so he hires guys who look like him to help share the load. Most kids will believe almost anything a man dressed as Santa tells them.
How do you explain that kids with rich parents get nicer toys than the ones whose parents don't have a lot of money?
I can't really. The downside of my job is that I'm contributing to the mass consumerism side of Christmas. But it's also my job to spread as much festive cheer as possible to whoever comes to see me.
Do you think we should have a version of Santa that isn't a white male?
Yes. I think that would be really cool. This year, my agency has started offering clients the option of booking a woman to play Santa—though demand hasn't been very high. In the past, my agency only had women on the Christmas roster as part of a more expensive package that had them dress up as one of Santa's angels.
What’s the worst gift you’ve ever given a kid?
Two years ago, I gave someone a small stuffed witch that was so ugly it actually scared me. There's no way I'd be able to sleep if I had to share a bed with that thing. The best gift I ever gave was a full drum set. That family must have had a pretty cool Christmas.
Or a very noisy one. How badly do you smell after a long day working in the costume?
Working in that costume is really horrible—you wouldn't believe how warm it gets inside that thing. After about a minute, I'm already sweating like a pig. Just imagine my stink after working for eight hours in a stuffy, scorching hot room, while pretending to be excited about meeting every child.
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What's the worst experience you've had at a Christmas party?
Pretty much every drunken party I’m booked for is bad. The worst part is always the drunk adults trying to sit on my lap.
Has someone ever wanted to sleep with you just because you're dressed as Santa?
No, unfortunately not. I don’t think there are many things more unattractive than a man in a Santa suit. Also, you'd be pretty silly to because you don’t know what the guy under the costume looks like.
But have you ever had sex in your costume?
Yes, once. I thought it would be an exciting change, but it wasn’t as fun as I'd hoped. The costume is just too warm—it’s like having sex in a parka. I wouldn’t recommend it.
When you work at office parties, do you try and spot which co-workers are having an affair?
Normally, I leave before their fun really starts. But if I’m booked to work late, then it's quite fun watching the awkward office romances unfold. The funniest thing I’ve seen was at a Christmas party for a marketing agency when this couple was just going wild on the dance floor. Their tongues were everywhere—they looked like two dogs sharing a water bowl.
Who do you hate more: spoiled kids or drunk adults?
Drunk adults. They always come up with ideas that they think are really novel and funny, such as asking to try on my costume. I don’t really meet that many spoiled kids. Children still respect Santa. Drunks don’t.