Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

And thanks to Norad (North American Aerospace Defense Command) you'll be able to track Father Christmas as he rockets around the globe delivering presents to the eager children of the world.

Every year since 1955 the airforces whose usual responsibility involves defending US airspace devote some of their time to tracking the progress of a fat white-bearded gentleman as he darts around the globe on a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

The Santa Tracker programme began when on December 24 1955 a Sears department store placed an advert in a a Colorado Springs newspaper which invited young readers to contact Santa.

Unfortunately the newspaper printed the wrong number, directing people instead to the number for Colorado Springs' Continental Air Defense Command (Conad) Centre.

The colonel who was on duty that night - Harry Shoup - instructed his staff to give all the children who called a "current location" for Santa Claus, and hence the tradition began.

It continued when Norad replaced Conad in 1958.

Such is the demand for information on Santa's progress that Norad today employs volunteers to man the phones. It is estimated that they handle around 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries.

The Santa Tracker has become more advanced over the years and has taken to social media with accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The Independent