Santa Sightings: Do Sleigh Bells Signal A Visit From Old St. Nick?

You’ve heard the stories. Tales whispered under full moonlight of an old jolly man in a bright red suit, who visits houses on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to those deemed worthy throughout the year.

They call him Santa Claus.

Most would assume Santa is nothing more than a fairytale. An ideal to live up to, as the parents out there might say. But would you be surprised to hear that, over the years, many people have reported actually witnessing Santa Claus in their homes, or flying overhead with his reindeer in the sky?

Many of the witnesses will tell you they’re embarrassed to share such stories. They may be adults now, but their memories of Kris Kringle sightings are stronger than ever, and they swear they are real.

A Collection Of Santa Sightings

For some time, Stephen Wagner of LiveAbout has been collecting unusual reports of Santa Claus sightings. Some date back to the 60s and 70s, some to more recent years, but each account seems as genuine as any report of a UFO or other paranormal phenomenon.

“It must have been around 7.30 p.m. on a clear night when we suddenly heard a bell or bells in the distance getting closer real fast. As we both looked up, there was the reindeer, the sleigh, and Santa flying very fast and low over my house.”

One witness describes Santa almost in Bigfoot terms — a large man, possibly seven or eight feet tall, rustling under his family’s Christmas tree before vanishing out of sight.

Another paints Santa as “eerie,” a supernatural entity that left her with a feeling of terror, like something out of a strange dream.

Sightings of Santa’s reindeer and sleigh bring to mind NUFORC and MUFON submissions of unidentified flying objects. A girl named Jade recalls a bright red light “beaming down” into her bedroom window, and then seeing a small object in the sky, followed by the sound of bells. Then, the object disappeared, and the sky fell silent.

“All of a sudden, I saw a red light beaming down into my window. It was so bright, and somehow I knew it was him.”

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping

These strange accounts of Santa sightings continue to trickle in. In 2016, one man shared his own personal tale of something that happened to him in 1990, when he was only seven years old.

He was staying at his grandparents’ house, excited for Christmas morning. And yet, in the middle of the night, he was awoken in bed by the “light sound of bells” and something peculiar entering the room.

“Now, the room was very dark at the time so I could only make out the unmistakable shape of Santa out of the corner of my eyes…”

The dark figure moved to the side of the bed and appeared to pat his grandfather with his big red Santa glove, as strange as that might sound. Then, the figure “gestured slightly,” and the witness fell asleep until morning.

Another witness recalls a Christmas Eve many years ago, when he woke up at 2:30 a.m. to use the restroom. And what to his wondering eyes should appear? Santa Claus, sitting in a recliner, eating a plate of cookies.

“I silently tiptoed down the stairs and peaked my head out around the corner to look into the living room. Santa Claus was sitting on our recliner eating one of the cookies we left for him and looking at our tree. All the lights were on in the room. The guy was way too big to be my father.”

He decided to make a run for the restroom, avoiding eye contact with Father Christmas. But when he returned, Santa was gone, and all the lights were out.

Yet another strange encounter leads one to wonder if, perhaps, Santa Claus may not be all that he appears to be. According to one man, to this day his daughter claims that, when she was seven, she saw Santa. But something wasn’t quite right. “She told me she was surprised to see him,” he wrote, “and that she had the feeling the entire time she was looking at him, that she was seeing something she shouldn’t be seeing.”

Is it possible that, in cases like this, Santa Claus is a paranormal entity that simply takes the form of something expected? What would be the implications?

“Maybe we ought to wonder exactly what we are inadvertently ‘inviting into our homes’ with this Santa Claus tale. The BEKs [Black Eyed Kids] show up at your door, and ‘ask’ for permission to enter, with Santa Claus we have already given him permission to enter.”

Something also interesting: Many accounts involve people who saw Santa Claus at the very specific age of seven. But that’s not even the most noteworthy pattern.

Silver Bells

Christmas bells
Image: Sebastian Spindler/Unsplash

Many Santa Claus encounters, including several of those shared by Wagner, involve hearing sleigh bells. This happens either during a visual sighting of a sleigh-like UFO, or simply with the mysterious sound of bells alone.

One witness tells of an incident during the holidays many years ago in New Mexico. His family was leaving a movie theater, and during the drive home they spotted a bright red light in the sky.

“I’m a very bad judge of distance,” he wrote, “So I couldn’t tell you how high up it was, but it was definitely too low to be any aircraft. Also, there was no sound coming from the light. I couldn’t see too well behind the red light, except for the outline of a sleigh.”

But it was what happened next that sealed the deal. One of them rolled down a window, and they heard the telltale sound of sleigh bells.

“Shortly after getting my parents attention, someone opens up their window to get a better view instead of the foggy window. We actually heard bells. Like sleigh bells.”

The sighting lasted several minutes before the unidentified object, and the sound of bells, faded away.

Others have reported hearing sleigh bells in the days leading up to Christmas, sometimes as early as October.

“I woke up and looked up at the sky (I think it was full moon). I heard the bells and saw something flying over the moon. I know it sounds like a fairy tale, but I remember it so accurately.”

The Holiday Season

Do these unusual tales mean that Santa Claus actually exists? Perhaps not. But I’m always reminded of what Art Bell once said (or something along these lines): These people know what they saw. It’s up to you whether or not to believe them.

We also have the more esoteric possibility that, in some cases, Santa Claus encounters may involve some kind of tulpa or manifestation of thought or global consciousness. Or, perhaps, certain paranormal phenomena are given form by our own expectations, and during this time of year, around a Christmas tree, that formless entity may begin to take shape into something familiar.

Well, as they say, the truth is out there.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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