NORAD took up the tradition in 1958, and now more than 1,000 volunteers come each year to answer the phone calls and e-mails that come in from around the world asking for information on when Santa will arrive. Today, it's a full-blown multimedia operation, with games, videos and plenty of information on its process for tracking Santa's progress.
Operators stand by from 5 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve until 5 a.m. EST on Christmas Day. You can call them at 1-877-HI-NORAD (446-6723) or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are even Santa tracking apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices -- plus Windows 8.
It just so happens that Santa tends to conveniently arrive shortly after bedtime -- between 9 p.m. and midnight, your local time -- but only if the children are asleep. So tracking his progress is also a pretty good incentive for your little ones to move quickly to their visions of sugarplums.
Not to be outdone, Google -- which used to be NORAD's partner -- is also keeping its Santa-tracking tradition alive, with its own system for keeping tabs on St. Nick. For weeks, the company has slowly been releasing games, activities and pictures of how Christmas celebrations look around the world.
On Christmas Eve, parents and kids will be able to track Santa using Google Maps on Android devices and on Google Chrome. You can also beam your Santa tracking app to your television with Google's Chromecast device, if you want to keep the map up overnight.
One thing to keep in mind: the two trackers have not always matched up in the past.
But that shouldn't be too surprising. Santa can be tricky like that.