NORAD's Santa-tracking service goes online

Christmas is all about traditions - a stolen kiss under the mistletoe, mince pies and scruffy teenagers at your door asking for money for a quick verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

Another tradition is the NORAD Santa tracker, which has been locating the whereabouts of the fat man on Christmas Eve since 1955.

Initially started due to a mix up with telephone numbers that directed children, wanting to speak with Father Christmas to the director of operations at CONAD (later to be called NORAD after merging with Canada), the tradition remains today, with the Web offering a more interactive experience.

Children eager to get a glimpse of Santa's path through the night sky will get a real buzz out of the service, which will ensure at least another half an hour of bedtime tomfoolery before they finally get their heads down.

NORAD (which usually occupies its time with the tracking of other, less-Christmas-y flying objects) offers online tracking via Google Maps, and now, via a Google Earth plug-in enables you to follow "Santa in Google Earth's immersive, 3D environment directly within your web browser".

If you want to get in on the action click through on this link and for a taster we've sorted out the trailer above to give you a festive glimpse of the fun to be had.