Berlin is facing an acute shortage of Santas just a month before Christmas, the head of a Father Christmas placement agency says.
The director of Berlin's Heinzelmaennchen agency, which provides Santas to thousands of Berlin families every Christmas Eve, says he is having trouble getting enough qualified help.
"We prefer chubby men, of course, ideally with a real beard but we're not picky and take what we get," director Rene Heydeck said, whose official title is Ober-Weinachtsmann (chief Santa Claus).
The Santas, many of whom are students, earn 28 euros a visit for bringing a sack of presents provided by the parents into each home and handing them out.
But Santas must also pay 45 euros for a costume and give the agency 15 per cent of earnings.
"In a lot of families in Berlin it's a tradition that carries on even after the children grow older and stop believing," Mr Heydeck said.