, also known as
, Kris Kringle
, or simply "Santa
", is the
figure who, in Western cultures, is described as bringing gifts on
Christmas Eve, December 24
or on his Feast Day, December 6.
The legend may have its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the
historical figure of Saint Nicholas.
The modern depiction of Santa
Claus as a fat, jolly man (or gnome) wearing a red coat and trousers
with white cuffs and collar, and black leather belt and boots, became
popular in the United States in the 19th century due to the significant
influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio,
television, and films. In the United Kingdom and Europe, his depiction
is often identical to the American Santa, but he is commonly called Father Christmas.
One legend associated with Santa says that he lives in the far north,
in a land of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus lives
at the North Pole, while Father Christmas is said to reside in Lapland.
Other details include: that he is married and lives with Mrs. Claus;
that he makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them
according to their behaviour; that he delivers presents, including toys,
candy, and other presents to all of the good boys and girls in the
world, and sometimes coal or sticks to the naughty children, in one
night; and that he accomplishes this feat with the aid of magical elves
who make the toys, and eight or nine flying reindeer who pull his
There has long been opposition to teaching children to believe in
Santa Claus. Some Christians say the Santa tradition detracts from the
religious origins and purpose of Christmas. Other critics feel that
Santa Claus is an elaborate lie, and that it is unethical for parents to
teach their children to believe in his existence.
Still others oppose Santa Claus as a symbol of the commercialization of
the Christmas holiday, or as an intrusion upon their own national
Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, "Merry Old Santa Claus," from Harper's Weekly
Early Christian origins
Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian
figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of
Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey.
Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular
presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with
dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very
religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to
Christianity. In Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium,
Austria and Germany) he is still portrayed as a bearded bishop in
canonical robes. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari, wanting to enter the
profitable pilgrimage industry of the times, mounted an expedition to
locate the tomb of the Christian Saint and procure the remains. The
reliquary of St. Nicholas was desecrated by Italian sailors and the
spoils, including his relics, taken to Bari
 where they are kept to
this day. A basilica was constructed the same year to store the loot and
the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout, thus justifying the
economic cost of the expedition. Saint Nicholas became claimed as a
patron saint of many diverse groups, from archers and children to
pawnbrokers. He is also
the patron saint of both Amsterdam and Moscow.
Influence of Germanic paganism and
Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure
of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their
Christianization. Since many of these elements are unrelated to
Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various
customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples
were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions,
surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus.
Odin was sometimes recorded, at the native Germanic holiday of Yule,
as leading a great hunting party through the sky.
Two books from Iceland, the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century
from earlier sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by
Snorri Sturluson, describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named
Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to
Santa Claus's reindeer.
Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of
which describe his appearance or functions; these include Síđgrani,
meaning "long beard") and Jólnir
According to Phyllis Siefker, children would place their boots,
filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying
horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their
kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy.
This practice survived in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands after the
adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a
result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the
modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some
This practice in turn came to the United States through the Dutch
colony of New Amsterdam prior to the British seizure in the 17th
century, and evolved into the hanging of socks or stockings at the
fireplace. In many regions of Austria and former Austro-Hungarian Italy
(Friuli, city of Trieste) children are given sweets and gifts on Saint
Nicholas's Day (San Niccolň in Italian), in accordance with the Catholic
calendar, December 6.
Numerous other influences from the pre-Christian Germanic winter
celebrations have continued into modern Christmas celebrations such as
the Christmas ham, Yule Goat, Yule logs and the Christmas tree.
Little girl meets with Santa Claus
Pre-Christian Alpine traditions
Originating from Pre-Christian Alpine traditions and influenced by
later Christianization, the Krampus is represented as a Companion of
Saint Nicholas. Traditionally, some young men dress up as the Krampus in
the first two weeks of December and particularly on the evening of
December 5 and roam the streets frightening children (and adults) with
rusty chains and bells.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, Saint Nicolas (often called "De Goede
Sint" — "The Friendly Saint") is aided by helpers commonly known as
Zwarte Piet ("Black Peter").
The folklore of Saint Nicolas has many parallels with Germanic
mythology, in particular with the god Odin. These include the beard, hat
and spear (nowadays a staff) and the cloth bag held by the servants to
capture naughty children. Both Saint Nicolas and Odin ride white horses
that can fly through the air; the white eight-legged steed of Odin is
named Sleipnir (although Sleipnir is more commonly depicted as gray).
The letters made of candy given by the Zwarte Pieten to the children
evokes the fact that Odin ‘invented’ the rune letters. The poems made
during the celebration and the songs the children sing relate to Odin as
the god of the arts of poetry.
There are various explanations of the origins of the helpers. The
oldest explanation is that the helpers symbolize the two ravens Hugin
and Munin who informed Odin on what was going on. In later stories the
helper depicts the defeated devil. The devil is defeated by either Odin
or his helper Nörwi, the black father of the night. Nörwi is usually
depicted with the same staff of birch (Dutch: "roe") as Zwarte Piet.
Another, more modern, story is that Saint Nicolas liberated an
Ethiopian slave boy called 'Piter' (from Saint Peter) from a Myra
market, and the boy was so gracious he decided to stay with Saint
Nicolas as a helper. With the influx of immigrants to the Netherlands
starting in the late 1950s, this story is felt by some to be racist.
Today, Zwarte Piet have become modern servants, who have black faces
because they climb through chimneys, causing their skin to become
blackened by soot. They hold chimney cleaning tools (cloth bag and staff
Until the Second World War, Saint Nicolas was only helped by one
servant. When the Canadians liberated the Netherlands in 1945, they
reinstated the celebrations of Sinterklaas for the children. Unaware of
the traditions, the Canadians thought that if one Zwarte Piet was fun,
several Zwarte Pieten is even more fun. Ever since Saint Nicolas is
helped by a group of Zwarte Pieten.
Presents given during this feast are often accompanied by poems, some
basic, some quite elaborate pieces of art that mock events in the past
year relating to the recipient. The gifts themselves may be just an
excuse for the wrapping, which can also be quite elaborate. The more
serious gifts may be reserved for the next morning. Since the giving of
presents is Sinterklaas's job, presents are traditionally not given at
Christmas in the Netherlands, but commercialism is starting to tap into
The Zwarte Pieten have roughly the same role for the Dutch Saint
Nicolas that the elves have to America's Santa Claus. According to
tradition, the saint has a Piet for every function: there are navigation
Pieten to navigate the steamboat from Spain to Holland, or acrobatic
Pieten for climbing up the roofs to stuff presents through the chimney,
or to climb through themselves. Throughout the years many stories have
been added, mostly made up by parents to keep children's belief in Saint
Nicolas intact and to discourage misbehaviour. In most cases the Pieten
are quite lousy at their job, such as the navigation Piet (Dutch "wegwijs
piet") pointing in the wrong direction. This is often used to provide
some simple comedy in the annual parade of Saint Nicolas coming to the
Netherlands, and can also be used to laud the progress of children at
school by having the Piet give the wrong answer to, for example, a
simple mathematical question like 2+2, so that the child in question is
(or can be) persuaded to give the right answer.
In the Netherlands the character of Santa Claus, as known in the
United States (with his white beard, red and white outfit, etc.), is
entirely distinct from Sinterklaas, known instead as (de) Kerstman
(trans. (the) Christmasman. Although Sinterklaas is the
predominant gift-giver in the Netherlands in December (36% of the
population only give presents on Sinterklaas day), Christmas is used by
another fifth of the Dutch population to give presents (21% give
presents on Christmas only). Some 26% of the Dutch population give
presents on both days.
Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from church history and
folklore merged with the British character Father Christmas to create
the character known to Britons and Americans as Santa Claus.
Father Christmas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in
Britain, and pictures of him survive from that era, portraying him as a
well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe. He
typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, and was reflected in the
"Ghost of Christmas Present" in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.
In other countries, the figure of Saint Nicholas was also blended
with local folklore. As an example of the still surviving pagan imagery,
in Nordic countries the original bringer of gifts at Christmas time was
the Yule Goat, a somewhat startling figure with horns.
In the 1840s however, an elf in Nordic folklore called "Tomte" or "Nisse"
started to deliver the Christmas presents in Denmark. The Tomte was
portrayed as a short, bearded man dressed in gray clothes and a red hat.
This new version of the age-old folkloric creature was obviously
inspired by the Santa Claus traditions that were now spreading to
Scandinavia. By the end of the 19th century this tradition had also
spread to Norway and Sweden, replacing the Yule Goat. The same thing
happened in Finland, but there the more human figure retained the Yule
Goat name. But even though the tradition of the Yule Goat as a bringer
of presents is now all but extinct, a straw goat is still a common
Christmas decoration in all of Scandinavia.
In the British colonies of North America and later the United States,
British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further. For
example, in Washington Irving's History of New York, (1809),
Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" but lost his bishop's
apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with
a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving's book was a lampoon of the Dutch
culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention.
Modern ideas of Santa Claus seemingly became canon after the
publication of the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (better known today
as "The Night Before Christmas") in the Troy, New York, Sentinel
on December 23, 1823 anonymously; the poem was later attributed to
Clement Clarke Moore. In this poem Santa is established as a heavyset
man with eight reindeer (who are named for the first time). One of the
first artists to define Santa Claus's modern image was Thomas Nast, an
American cartoonist of the 19th century. In 1863, a picture of Santa
illustrated by Nast appeared in Harper's Weekly.
In the late 19th century, a group of Sami people moved from Finnmark
in Norway to Alaska, together with 500 reindeer to teach the Inuit to
herd reindeer. The Lomen Company then used several of the Sami together
with reindeer in a commercial campaign. Reindeer pulled sleds with a
Santa, and one Sami leading each reindeer. The American commercial Santa
Claus, coming from the North Pole with reindeer was born.
L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a 1902
children's book, further popularized Santa Claus. Much of Santa Claus's
mythos was not set in stone at the time, leaving Baum to give his "Neclaus"
(Necile's Little One) a wide variety of immortal support, a home in the
Laughing Valley of Hohaho, and ten reindeer which could not fly,
but leapt in enormous, flight-like bounds. Claus's immortality was
earned, much like his title ("Santa"), decided by a vote of those
naturally immortal. This work also established Claus's motives: a happy
childhood among immortals. When Ak, Master Woodsman of the World,
exposes him to the misery and poverty of children in the outside world,
Santa strives to find a way to bring joy into the lives of all children,
and eventually invents toys as a principal means.
Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through Haddon
Sundblom's depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company's Christmas
advertising in the 1930s. The popularity of the image spawned urban
legends that Santa Claus was in fact invented by Coca-Cola or that Santa
wears red and white because those are the Coca-Cola colors.
In reality, Coca-Cola was not even the first soft drink company to
utilize the modern image Santa Claus in its advertising – White Rock
Beverages used Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and then in
advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923. Furthermore, the massive
campaign by Coca-Cola simply popularised the depiction of Santa as
wearing red and white, in contrast to the variety of colours he wore
prior to that campaign; red and white was originally given by Nast.
The image of Santa Claus as a benevolent character became reinforced
with its association with charity and philanthropy, particularly
organizations such as the Salvation Army. Volunteers dressed as Santa
Claus typically became part of fundraising drives to aid needy families
at Christmas time.
In 1889, the poet Katherine Lee Bates created a wife for Santa, Mrs.
Claus, in the poem "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride." The 1956
popular song by George Melachrino, "Mrs. Santa Claus," helped
standardize and establish the character and role in the popular
In some images of the early 20th century, Santa was depicted as
personally making his toys by hand in a small workshop like a craftsman.
Eventually, the idea emerged that he had numerous elves responsible for
making the toys, but the toys were still handmade by each individual elf
working in the traditional manner.
The concept of Santa Claus continues to inspire writers and artists,
as in author Seabury Quinn's 1948 novel Roads, which draws from
historical legends to tell the story of Santa and the origins of
Christmas. Other modern additions to the "mythology" of Santa include
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the ninth and lead reindeer immortalized
in a Gene Autry song, written by a Montgomery Ward copywriter.
Santa Claus in popular culture
By the end of the 20th century, the reality of mass mechanized
production became more fully accepted by the Western public. That shift
was reflected in the modern depiction of Santa's residence—now often
humorously portrayed as a fully mechanized production and distribution
facility, equipped with the latest manufacturing technology, and
overseen by the elves with Santa and Mrs. Claus as executives and/or
managers. An excerpt
from a 2004 article, from a supply chain managers' trade magazine, aptly
illustrates this depiction:
Santa's main distribution centre is a sight to behold. At
4,000,000 square feet (370,000 m2), it's one of the
world's largest facilities. A real-time warehouse management
system is of course required to run such a complex. The facility
makes extensive use of task interleaving, literally combining
dozens of DC activities (put away, replenishing, order picking,
sleigh loading, cycle counting) in a dynamic queue...the DC
elves have been on engineered standards and incentives for three
years, leading to a 12% gain in productivity...The WMS and
transportation system are fully integrated, allowing (the elves)
to make optimal decisions that balance transportation and order
picking and other DC costs. Unbeknownst to many, Santa actually
has to use many sleighs and fake Santa drivers to get the job
done Christmas Eve, and the TMS optimally builds thousands of
consolidated sacks that maximize cube utilization and minimize
total air miles.
Many television commercials, comic strips and other media depict this
as a sort of humorous business, with Santa's elves acting as a sometimes
mischievously disgruntled workforce, cracking jokes and pulling pranks
on their boss. For instance, an early Bloom County story has
Santa telling the story of how his elves went on strike, only to be
fired by Ronald Reagan and replaced by unemployed aircraft control
Another recent depiction can be found in the 2007 film
a comedy starring Vince Vaughan in the title role as the sarcastic older
brother to Santa (played by Paul Giamatti.) Fred visits his brother at
the North Pole and, under the guidance of Santa and the elves (some who
act as Santa's bodyguards), helps deliver the Christmas toys.
NORAD, the joint Canadian-American military organization responsible
for air defense, regularly reports tracking Santa Claus every year.
In Kyrgyzstan, a mountain peak was named after Santa Claus, after a
Swedish company had suggested the location be a more efficient starting
place for present-delivering journeys all over the world, than Lapland.
In the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, a Santa Claus Festival was held on
December 30, 2007, with government officials attending. 2008 was
officially declared the Year of Santa Claus in the country. The events
are seen as moves to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan,
which is predominately Muslim.
Such condemnation of Santa Claus is a phenomenon not limited to the
20th century, but rather originated among some Protestant groups of the
16th century and was prevalent among the Puritans of 17th-century
England and America who banned the holiday as either pagan or Roman
Catholic. Following the English Civil War, under Oliver Cromwell's
government Christmas was banned. Following the Restoration of the
monarchy and with Puritans out of power in England,
the ban on Christmas was satirized in works such as Josiah King's The
Examination and Tryal of Old Father Christmas; Together with his
Clearing by the Jury (1686) [Nissenbaum, chap. 1].
Rev. Paul Nedergaard, a clergyman in Copenhagen, Denmark, attracted
controversy in 1958 when he declared Santa to be a "pagan goblin" after
Santa's image was used on fund-raising materials for a Danish welfare
organization Clar, 337. One prominent religious group that refuses to
celebrate Santa Claus, or Christmas itself, for similar reasons is the
Jehovah's Witnesses .
A number of denominations of Christians have varying concerns about
Santa Claus, which range from acceptance to denouncement.
Santa as a symbol of commercialism
In his book Nicholas: The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus,
writer Jeremy Seal describes how the commercialization of the Santa
Claus legend began in the 1800s. "In the 1820s he began to acquire the
recognizable trappings: reindeer, sleigh, bells," said Seal in an
"They are simply the actual bearings in the world from which he emerged.
At that time, sleighs were how you got about Manhattan."
Writing in Mothering, writer Carol Jean-Swanson makes similar
points, noting that the original figure of St. Nicholas gave only to
those who were needy and that today Santa Claus seems to be more about
||Our jolly old Saint Nicholas reflects our culture to a T, for he
is fanciful, exuberant, bountiful, over-weight, and highly
commercial. He also mirrors some of our highest ideals:
childhood purity and innocence, selfless giving, unfaltering
love, justice, and mercy. (What child has ever received a coal
for Christmas?) The problem is that, in the process, he has
become burdened with some of society's greatest challenges:
materialism, corporate greed, and domination by the media. Here,
Santa carries more in his baggage than toys alone!
In the Czech Republic, a group of advertising professionals started a
website against Santa Claus, a relatively recent phenomenon in that
Christmases are intimate and magical. All that Santa stuff seems to me
like cheap show business," said David König of the Creative Copywriters
Club, pointing out that it is primarily an American and British
tradition. "I'm not against Santa himself. I'm against Santa in my
country only." In the Czech tradition, presents are delivered by Ježíšek,
which translates as Baby Jesus.
In the United Kingdom, Santa -- or Father Christmas -- was
historically depicted wearing a green cloak. More recently, that has
been changed to the more commonly known red suit.
One school in the seaside town of Brighton banned the use of a red suit
for erroneously believing it was only indicative of the Coca-Cola
advertising campaign. School spokesman Sarah James said: "The red-suited
Santa was created as a marketing tool by Coca-Cola, it is a symbol of
reality, the red-suited Santa was created by Thomas Nast.
The belief in Santa Claus by children is widespread. In an AP-AOL
News poll, 86% of American adults believed in Santa as children, with
the age of 8 being the average for stopping to believe he is real,
although 15% still believed after the age of 10.
In New Zealand, 85 percent of 4-year-old children and 65 percent of
6-year-olds believe in Santa Claus.
Parental and societal encouragement of this belief is not without
controversy. The editors of Netscape framed one complaint about the
Santa Claus myth: "Parents who encourage a belief in Santa are foisting
a grand deception on their children, who inevitably will be disappointed
University of Texas at Austin psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley
contradicts the notion that a belief in Santa is evidence of the
gullibility of children, but evidence that they believe what their
parents tell them and society reinforces. According to Woolley:
||The adults they count on to provide reliable information about
the world introduce them to Santa. Then his existence is
affirmed by friends, books, TV and movies. It is also validated
by hard evidence: the half-eaten cookies and empty milk glasses
by the tree on Christmas morning. In other words, children do a
great job of scientifically evaluating Santa. And adults do a
great job of duping them.
Woolley posits that it is perhaps "kinship with the adult world" that
causes children not to be angry that they were lied to for so long. The
criticism about this deception is not that it is a simple lie, but a
complicated series of very large lies.
The objections to the lie are that it is unethical for parents to lie to
children without good cause, and that it discourages healthy skepticism
With no greater good at the heart of the lie, it is charged that it is
more about the parents than it is about the children. Writer Austin
Cline posed the question: "Is it not possible that kids would find at
least as much pleasure in knowing that parents are responsible for
Christmas, not a supernatural stranger?"
Others, however, see no harm in the belief in Santa Claus.
Psychologist Tamar Murachver said in that it was a cultural, not
parental, lie; thus, it does not undermine parental trust.
The New Zealand Skeptics also see no harm in parents telling their
children that Santa is real. Spokesperson Vicki Hyde said, "It would be
a hard-hearted parent indeed who frowned upon the innocent joys of our
children's cultural heritage. We save our bah humbugs for the things
that exploit the vulnerable."
Dr. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500
children for a study of the issue and found that not a single child was
angry at his or her parents for telling them Santa Claus was real.
According to Dr. Condry, "The most common response to finding out the
truth was that they felt older and more mature. They now knew something
that the younger kids didn't."
Home of Santa Claus
In American tradition, Santa lives on the North Pole. However, each
Nordic country claims Santa's residence to be within their territory. In
Denmark, he is told to live on Greenland. In Sweden, the town of Mora
has a themepark named Tomteland. The national postal terminal in
Tomteboda in Stockholm receives childrens' letters for Santa. The
Finnish town Rovaniemi has long been known in Finland as Santa's home,
and has today a themepark called Santa Claus Village.
Europe and North America
Throughout Europe and North America, Santa Claus is generally known
as such, but in some countries the gift-giver's name, attributes, date
of arrival, and even identity varies.
- Austria: Christkind ("Christ child")
- Armenia: Ձմեռ Պապիկ (Dzmer
Papik "Grandfather Winter")
- Bulgaria: Дядо Коледа ("Grandfather Christmas")
- Canada: Santa Claus; Pčre Noël ("Father Christmas")
- Czech Republic: Svatý Mikuláš ("Saint Nicholas"); Ježíšek
(diminutive form of Ježíš ["Jesus"])
- Denmark: Julemanden
- Estonia: Jőuluvana
- Faroe Islands: Jólamađurin
- Finland: Joulupukki
- France: Pčre Noël ("Father Christmas," also a common figure in
other French-speaking areas)
- Germany: Weihnachtsmann ("Christmas Man"); Christkind in
- Greece: Άγιος Βασίλης ("Saint Basil")
- Hungary: Mikulás ("Nicholas"); Jézuska or Kis Jézus ("child
- Ireland: Santa Claus, Santy or Daidí na Nollag (Father
- Italy: Babbo Natale ("Father Christmas"); La Befana (similar to
Santa Claus; she rides a broomstick rather than a sleigh, but is not
considered a witch); Santa Lucia ("Saint Lucy," a blind old woman
who on December 13th brings gifts to children in some regions,
riding a donkey)
- Latvia: Ziemassvētku vecītis ("Christmas pop")
- Liechtenstein: Christkind
- Lithuania: Senis Šaltis ("Old Man Frost") or Kalėdų Senelis
- Netherlands & Flanders: Kerstman
- Norway: Julenissen
- Poland: Święty Mikołaj / Mikołaj ("Saint Nicholas"); Gwiazdor in
- Portugal: Pai Natal ("Father Christmas"); Menino Jesus ("child
- Romania: Moş Crăciun ("Father Christmas"); Moş Niculae ("Father
- Russia: Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz, "Grandfather Frost")
- Serbia: Дедa Мрaз / Deda Mraz (Ded Moroz, "Grandfather Frost")
- Spain: Reyes Magos (Biblical Magi) is the autochthonous
tradition, and representations of the Magi are done in the streets
the 6th of January. Due to external influence, Santa Claus (Papá
Noel) is becoming more common. Many families have adopted both
- Catalonia: Apart from the Reis Mags (Biblical Magi)
tradition, in Catalonia there is another local tradition, the
Tió de Nadal. Usually this character gives small gifts, the more
important gifts being given by the Reis Mags. As in the rest of
Spain, the imported Pare Noel (Santa Claus) tradition is
becoming more common.
- Sweden: Jultomten
- Switzerland: Christkind / Babbo Natale / Pčre Noël
- Turkey: Noel Baba ("Father Christmas") Although Turks are mainly
Islamic, many homes carry the tradition of "Noel Baba" and a
Christmas (or New Year) tree.
- Ukraine: Svyatyy Mykolay
- United Kingdom: Santa Claus, Santa, Father Christmas
- United States: Santa Claus; Kris Kringle; Saint Nicholas or
- Wales: Siôn Corn
Santa Claus in Latin America is generally referred to as Papá Noel,
but there are variations from country to country.
- Brazil: Papai Noel ("Father Noah"); Os Tręs Reis Magos ("The
Three Mage Kings")
- Chile: Viejito Pascuero (Christmas old man)
- Mexico: Santo Clós (Santa Claus); Nińo Dios ("child Jesus"); Los
- Colombia: Papá Noel ("Father Noah")
People around Asia, particularly countries that have adopted Western
cultures, also celebrate Christmas and the gift-giver traditions passed
down to them from the West. Some countries that observe and celebrate
Christmas (especially as a public holiday) include Hong Kong,
Philippines, East Timor, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and
the Christian communities within Central Asia and the Middle East.
- Asia: Santa Claus
- Japan: サンタクロース (santakurosu)
- Hong Kong: Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas
Africa and the Middle East
Christians in Africa and Middle East who celebrate Christmas
generally ascribe to the gift-giver traditions passed down to them by
Europeans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Descendants of colonizers still residing in these regions likewise
continue the practices of their ancestors.
- South Africa: Sinterklaas; Father Christmas; Santa Claus
- Egypt: Papa Noel
Variations of Christmas around the world
- Joulupukki - Finnish Santa from Korvatunturi