Twas the doodle before Christmas and all through the 'net, Google's elves were a-stirring to get us all set.
As gift-givers shifted from shopping to wrapping, the holiday turkey began to thaw, and advent calendars got down to their last unopened window, Sunday's Google Doodle showed us the man of the hour getting ready for his annual mission around the world. The first of several lightly animated holiday doodles showed a trio of elves flinging presents into Santa's sleigh as the reindeer awaited clearance for takeoff.
That image reached many countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Greeting folks in the UK, Italy and sub-Saharan Africa was a static, non-Santa illustration, filled with items including tree branches and flowers, cook pot and teakettle, a lone reindeer and a brace of birds (apparently not turtle doves, though).
On Monday, Christmas Eve, Google offered a day-two Santa-themed doodle with an illustration of Santa Claus dropping gifts down a chimney in a snowy suburban landscape. The second-day image for the southern hemisphere shows Santa dropping gifts but not through chimneys. And the image for the UK, Italy and sub-Saharan Africa was a new, non-Santa holiday illustration.
Google is also ready with a Christmas Day doodle, for both hemispheres, featuring Santa and his team napping after their big night.
Google has been decorating its homepage with near-daily doodles for 20 years, a tradition that started with a simple line drawing to mark an outing to the Burning Man festival by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since then, the whimsical and sometimes interactive illustrations have celebrated everything from poets to Pac-Man and from Halloween to Bastille Day.
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First published Dec. 23 at 9:29 a.m. PT.
Update Dec. 24 at 9:15 a.m. PT.: Adds Christmas Eve doodle and a preview of the Christmas Day doodle.