Meet Australia's first Mrs Claus. ConnectPink's Monique Patterson caught up with her in the lead up to Christmas.
The Melbourne woman has dedicated her life to spreading joy and Christmas cheer 52 weeks of the year.Bernadette Dimitrov, 51, was the first Australian woman to graduate with a Bachelor of SantaClausology from The International University of Santa Claus in the USA back in 2010.
"I'm living my dream and I never thought that would be possible," Bernadette said.
As a young girl, Christmas was the most magical time of year for her. She was bullied at school and her fondest memories are of holding her mother's hand and lining up to see Santa Claus at Myer.
"Every year Santa was my best friend and my only friend," Bernadette said.Now she has turned that passion for Christmas into a lifestyle.
"Every day is Christmas for me," Bernadette said.
She has 11 Christmas trees that are a permanent fixture in her home and she regularly dresses as Santa and Mrs Claus and goes out into the community to perform random acts of kindness like pushing a person's trolley at a supermarket or leaving dollar coins on chairs for people to discover.
Bernadette also helps to spread Christmas cheer year round to young children who are sick or who have been through a crisis.
For Bernadette, Christmas is not about material goods, it is about kindness and spending time with family and friends and taking time out to relax.
She has thousands of Santa friends throughout the world, has attended Santa conventions and even took part in a huge parade in Tennessee on Santa's cyber sleigh.Bernadette is also working with Melbourne architect Ben Milbourne from Bild Architecture to represent Australia at the International Santa Claus Peace Village.
This will involve 40 countries and all will submit house designs that reflect their country's traditions to be built in the village in Turkey.
Bernadette said people would be able to stay in the houses in the village that promotes peace and love and harmony.
“The International Santa Claus Peace Village is about embracing each other’s cultures and celebrating our differences, showing the rest of the world that we can live happily together,” Bernadette said.
She has also written a number of books, including a book on Christmas traditions around the world, The Ho Ho Ho Factor.
Some of her favourite Christmas traditions include the practice of children in Bulgaria making a "patting stick" and then visitors to their home are patted with the stick with wishes of "happiness, health and prosperity."
Another one is celebrated in Europe, in which the first child who sees the Christmas star gets a special present. Bernadette said the funny thing was, usually the weather was overcast so parents would hide outside and dangle a cardboard Christmas star in the window.
Her next dream is to celebrate Christmas in Finland, where there is a magical Santa Claus village and to attend the Christmas in July celebration in Denmark.
Would you like to celebrate Christmas all year long? Log onto www.connectpink.com.au to have your say.