December 23, 2014 7:00 AM EST

Behind the most famous and mysterious man in the world this time of year, there actually stand thousands of men. Men of all ages, sizes and backgrounds.

Many of these men, who are part of the greater Santa industry, have undergone professional Santa schooling to make sure that the legend of Santa lives on.

Timothy Connaghan, also known as a Santa Tim, is the author of the Santa manual Behind the Red Suit, and has groomed nearly 3,000 Santas and Mrs. Clauses over the past decade, through his traveling Santa school. He explains that many Santas nationwide undergo training to ensure their characters are, to a certain degree, uniform.

And despite donning the same red suit, these men emphasize that they hope their individual stories help to humanize the mythology of Santa.

“I guess Santa Claus once in a while gets grumpy,” said a guy who goes by Santa Andrew, while struggling into the backseat of a tiny cab. “No one is perfect in this world.”

Not even Santa. He, or better put, they are human after all.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Contact us at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like