This Santa Claus School from 1961 Reveals Some of the Secrets of Being a Good Santa

By | December 13, 2015

Christmas is so close I can almost smell the egg nog. So let's all hop on our sleigh, travel back in time to 1961 and let's give the world's oldest school for would-be Santas a visit...

Established in 1937, the Charles Howard’s Santa Claus School actually still exists today in Michigan, proudly claiming the title of the world’s oldest Santa School.

Students pictured here in 1961 have signed up for a 5-day, $75 course in the hopes of receiving a Santa certificate that will help them get jobs at local department stores during the Yuletide season.

Here, Santa Clauses are put through test during a practice session with child volunteers.


Demonstration on how to properly wear the Santa suit.

Enrollees in Santa Claus School learning how to render a jolly belly laugh.


Would-be Santa Clauses learning how to do a spritely soft-shoe dance.


Learning how to wear wigs and whiskers.

Founder Charles Howard show students how much of Santa’s face should show between wig and beard.



This certifies that …. has honorably and diligently completed the course in the study and art of Santa Claus, and is now ready to carry on as a Helper of Santa Claus.

As holder of this diploma, I fully realize the responsibility and privilege that is mine in spreading joy and happiness to the children of this world through their beloved friend and servant, Santa Claus.

I hereby sincerely and solemnly promise to give my best, my all to carry out the principles Santa Claus stands for.

H/T LIFE Archives | Photos: LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt