SANTAS working in shopping centres across Australia have been banned from bellowing "ho ho ho" because it might frighten children.
Recruitment firm Westaff, which supplies hundreds of Santas around the country, yesterday confirmed the edict.
Westaff national operations manager Glen Jansz said the company's Santas had been urged to tone down their use of the "ho, ho, ho" phrase.
"The reason behind that is we find that in some cases the little kids can get a little bit scared of the deep 'ho, ho, hos' and we ask them to be mindful of keeping their voices to a lower level," he said.
"And kids are probably more inclined to understand 'ha, ha, ha', than 'ho, ho, ho'."
Thirty trainees at a recent Santa course were instructed to replace the traditional Christmas greeting with "ha, ha, ha".
A Santa veteran of 11 years told the Sunday Herald Sun
the instructions were clear: "No 'ho ho ho'."
"We were told to say 'ha ha ha Merry Christmas'," he said.
Two Santa hopefuls reportedly left the course after the edict.
Family Council of Victoria spokesman Bill Muehlenberg described the ban as "nonsensical".
"Potentially any big guy in a red suit with a white beard is scary but I don't think him saying 'ho ho ho' would damage a child's psyche.
"Let's just concentrate on the kids having a good time."
A survey of Melbourne children yesterday found universal support for Santa's "ho ho ho".
"It's silly, we love hearing Santa's laugh," said Briony, 8, of Mitcham.
"It doesn't frighten me at all. It's what Santa is supposed to say," said Byron, 9, of Melton.
Yesterday in the Bourke St Mall, Santas appeared to be ignoring orders to stop the 'ho ho hos'.
David Jones's bellowed to a delighted group of children and rival Myer's Santa also kept up the jolly tradition.