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Poon Sin-man on life as Asia’s first female Santa

Written by
Olivia Lai
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A Bushy white beard, massive round belly and deep-throated ‘ho, ho, ho’ are the hallmarks of your typical Santa Claus. But  Poon Sin-man, better known to the public as Santa Kiwi, is breaking the glass ceiling – or chimney – as Asia’s first female Santa. To achieve this lofty title, Poon had to endure rigorous training and tackle unconventional tasks like lassoing, bull riding and other such typical festive activities – all of which are meant to prepare potential Saint Nicks for the Santa Winter Games held in Gällivare, Sweden. Poon came third in the 2016 games. “It’s very special,” she says, talking to us at Tiara Club in Ho Man Tin, “to be Asia’s first female Santa. We all have this image of a heavyset man when it comes to Santa Claus but I don’t think it matters if Santa is a guy or a girl, as long as they’re sincere with children. It’s about being genuine in wanting to help and bring happiness to others.”

It should come as no surprise that Christmas is Poon’s number one holiday. One of her favourite things as a child was receiving gifts, something which eventually morphed into her more altruistic love of handing out presents. “Nowadays, people seem cold and difficult to please,” she explains, “but giving out a single candy can brighten up anyone’s day. That’s why I wanted to be Santa Claus.” Aside from her day job as an office worker, Poon’s responsibilities as have taken her to charity events across Hong Kong to help spread some joy to low-income families and children. “My role as Santa is to give people hope and warmth,” she says, “and, most importantly, I must be true. Children always know if you don’t like them.”

Poon dons her red and white outfit once more for another hectic holiday season, which includes the Hope Worldwide Great Santa Run on December 16. And despite her busy schedule, Poon’s favourite time of year now comes with a bigger purpose. “It's no longer just about me celebrating with friends and family,” she says. “It’s also about meeting other children and having fun with them.” 

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