Christmas tradition of sitting on Santa's knee falls victim to COVID-19

One of the oldest traditions of Christmas has fallen victim to COVID-19 as this year no children can sit on Santa's knee.

Nevertheless, there are 34 days until Christmas and goodness knows everyone needs something to celebrate this year.

In Christchurch, the traditional Ballantyne's windows are open and the children are beside themselves because Santa's arrived in town on the tram.

But this year, as well as messages of love, hope and unity, Santa has another message for children, and it's one we're getting used to hearing.

"Just be careful," Santa says.

"Because we don't want to spread any germs, Santa's got his gloves on. The mask isn't really needed without the amount of beard I've got... ho ho ho."

And that also means the age-old tradition of sitting on Saint Nick's knee is out the door too.

Liz Mills from Ballantynes Department Store says there are a few COVID-19-friendly rules to stick to. 

"This year it's a no-touch environment so no sitting on knees, no hugs."

And some are not happy about it.

"I'm mad," says one child keen to meet Santa. "Because I want to sit on his knee."

"COVID's horrible," says another.

While some are upset, there's a good portion of the target audience who won't mind the new rules.

"I think there will be some kids actually quite happy they don't have to sit on Santa's knee," Millz says.

Over in America, it's worse. 

Santa's stuck with a mask behind a glass screen, there are temperature checks and the man in red has to listen to the wishes of the children from afar.