Santa’s Magnificent Zettelkasten: The Christmas Chronicles

Of course Santa Claus would have the most spectacular zettelkasten in the world!

He’s got billions of people and gifts for them to keep track of, so naturally he’s got a stupendous card index filing system to back it up! Usually Santa’s “List” gets the hero’s credit for his operation along with elves, reindeer, and a sleigh, but let’s be honest: he’s got a massive filing system that he uses to compile that naughty and nice list!

I appreciate that the movie The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix, 2018) features Santa’s main office in an extended sequence and shows off the backbone of his office operation. With centuries in operation and millions of moving parts, he’s obviously solved the logistics problem the way many before him have. His filing system seems to consist of alphabetically ordered names and letter correspondence he maintains with his juvenal suppliants. This system along with magic (presumably) allows him to make his famous list.

Throughout the movie Santa demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of people, their names, and long histories of what they’ve wanted for Christmas. Surely it was long and concerted work with his filing system which has made his work almost second nature, right?!?

The boxes pictured are definitely not standard library card catalog 3 x 5 inch size but are closer to a more classical 4 x 6 inch, or if you presume he’s using the DIN standard, which may be more likely, then A6 slips. If the shelves are roughly as deep as my own filing cabinet, then this room could easily contain roughly 13,925,000 slips. In comparison to Niklas Luhmann’s lifetime output of notes, this would represent roughly 155 Niklas Luhmanns—it’s no wonder that we call him Saint Niklas. 

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles featuring Santa Claus' dark wooden and cavernous office the back wall of which is covered in a massive card index file. In the foreground a young girl walks in to explore it.
Seen in this office photo are approximately 4,000 drawers of files! I totally want this office aesthetic.
Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles featuring a girl staring in awe around Santa's office. In the background behind her is Santa's massive zettelkasten.
I suspect I would have the same awestruck look on my face when exposed to such a massive office infrastructure.

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles featuring a standing in awe at Santa's massive zettelkasten which fills the screen despite the wide angle shot. There are thousands upon thousands of drawers.

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles featuring a girl exploring Santa's zettelkasten wall using a steampunk style mechanized platform.
I thought I had a large filing cabinet for slips, but Santa needs a custom elevator platform just to reach his materials. This gives new meaning to Maschinen der Phantasie.

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles featuring a girl exploring Santa's zettelkasten. The close up shows here thumbing through an open drawer with a variety of colored filed letters. In the background we see a dozen drawers on the wall.

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles. The girl is closing the drawer she was exploring to look down into the office. There are hundreds of file drawers in the background behind her.

Screen capture from the Christmas Chronicles. A view into Santa's office which is suddenly populated with several dozen incredibly cute elves.
Naturally if one had such a large zettelkasten, one would want their own army of magical elves with nimble fingers to help manage it all!