The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 24 December 2018

Defence

Image: Shutterstock

Strange presents

A joint Canadian-American defence command is upholding a festive tradition: turning its radars to the sky to follow Santa.

While North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) safeguards North American skies, it’s list of duties extends at this time of year. For more than 60 years it has carried out an important task on Christmas Eve: providing minute-by-minute updates on the location of Santa Claus’s sleigh. The Norad Santa Tracker website, which allows eager eyes to follow the 510,000,000km reindeer-propelled journey, receives nine million visitors. The practice began in 1955 when a curious child dialled a misprinted telephone number in a Sears advert only to find himself asking a top-secret defence command about Santa’s whereabouts. The joint Canadian-American unit has continued the festive tradition ever since. Following a year of strained relations between the long-time allies, Norad’s Santa Tracker is a timely reminder of their fruitful and co-operative friendship.

Business

Image: Alamy

Bread winner

An Italian panettone company was in for a bleak midwinter until its saviour turned the firm’s fortunes around.

Italian company Melegatti has experienced something of a Christmas miracle. The Verona-based firm that makes pandoro and panettone – and is the original creator of the modern pandoro back in 1894 – had hit a rocky financial patch and declared bankruptcy last May. But, after being taken over by the Vicentine Spezzapria family in November, the company has hired 35 staff and its products have made it back onto supermarket shelves just in time for Christmas. A combination of Italy’s financial crisis and competition from the country’s other pandoro giant, Bauli, deflated Melegatti’s profits. But as the nation’s consumption of Christmas desserts increases (the Italian Association of Confectionary and Pasta Industries has released figures stating production grew 2.2 per cent in 2017), Melegatti’s fortunes may rise nicely once again.

Entertainment

Image: Getty Images

Still going strong

Even after 85 years, the kitsch of Radio City’s Christmas variety gala is showing few signs of fatigue.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is even older than it sounds: this year the variety show will be celebrating its 85th birthday, making it just five years younger than the de facto King of America, Mickey Mouse. Traditionally the show has evolved at the speed of a dripping tap filling an Olympic-sized swimming pool but this year organisers have turned on the hi-tech hose to include “interactive and immersive” elements, drones, trapeze artists and more at the behest of Tony-nominated stage director Sam Buntrock. The finale will see actors perform alongside animation displayed on a huge 8K LED screen. Fear not, though, for the Rockettes are still the heart of the Spectacular: the leggy troupe will perform a chaste American take on the can-can amid Santas, lasers, reindeer and – the sixpence in the pudding – the Radio City Nativity, featuring real camels and other assorted festive fauna. Even at Christmas in Manhattan, some things are sacred.

Retail

Image: Alamy

Time to shut up shop

Despite our love of sales, shops are being encouraged to give their workers a well-deserved break over Christmas.

Post-Christmas sales may be something eager shoppers look forward to in the UK but the feeling is not shared with retail workers. An online petition, ‘Stop shops opening on Boxing Day’, initiated by the Metro newspaper, called for signatures this month in order to allow those working in retail time to spend with family, instead of working long hours and dealing with disrupted traffic during the festivities. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers is also supporting the petition calling for shops to close on New Year’s Eve and shorter working hours on Christmas Eve. The issue is not a recent one. In 2016 parliament debated the matter, ultimately agreeing that it is not the role of government to tell shops “how best to serve their customers”.

From Monocle 24

The key themes of 2018

The Urbanist

On this week’s special edition, Monocle editor Andrew Tuck is joined by Kat Hanna and Christian Wolmar to look back at some of the main themes in urbanism, city-planning and architecture from the year gone by.

From Monocle Films

Monocle Christmas Market 2018

Tyler Brûlé and his merry team got festive last weekend with the annual Monocle Christmas Market at Midori House. Our favourite retailers shared a mulled wine with subscribers and other guests – and everyone met Santa Claus, of course.

/

sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Print magazine subscriptions start from £55.

Subscribe now

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00