It was the first time Ko has seen so many Santas together, and they came from as far afield as Japan and the Netherlands. He enjoyed sitting around a fire and having a barbecue with them outside in the freezing weather. Ko says the most unforgettable experience during his stay was dancing hand in hand with other Santas around a large Christmas tree bedecked with lights.
Being a Santa Claus ensured he got a warm welcome everywhere. Though the meals were simple, just deer meat and sweet gruel, Ko says the people in Gellivare are happy and easily feel satisfied.
This makes Ko sigh about how materialistic life is in Hong Kong. Here, Santa Claus is just a commercial product. Companies profit by using Santa Claus to draw the attention of more customers.
Ko says the meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ but now it has become a festival for Santa Claus. Still, Ko says he will carry on being a Santa, “I do not care about others. I can have my own way of being a Santa Claus, like performing magic to the children.”
It is not just Santa that is commercialised. In his job as a magician, Ko has noticed that many parents invite magicians to perform at their children’s birthday parties not just for the children’s enjoyment but for their own pride and to “keep up with the Joneses”. All of this makes him treasure the simple life in Sweden even more.
While Ko does not have many positive things to say about Santas in Hong Kong, he does make an exception for Santa Jim, Jimmy Chan, who took the crown at the sixth Santa Claus Winter Games in Sweden, who also happens to be a friend of Ko’s.
“He [Santa Jim] is a Santa even without wearing the costume. He doesn’t need to deliberately impersonate Santa Claus,” Ko says, mimicking Santa Jim’s voice and expression when talking. Jimmy Chan, on the other hand, describes Ko as funny, energetic and playful.
“He keeps on doing different actions to catch attention. He just loves to express himself,” Chan says.
Ko admits that he loves performing. He does not care whether others agree with him or not. He simply enjoys the process of performing even if he does not get any applause. Performance is what gets him going.
At school, Ko says he was just an ordinary boy who did not like to follow rules. He was always asleep in class and the only thing he enjoyed was playing football.
“I did not like studying. It’s boring,” Ko says. After he quit school in Form Five, Ko worked as a salesperson and then in a bar. There, he saw a magician playing a coin trick. Amazed by the magic trick, Ko started to study magic by reading books.