The wonderful world of Santa Claus
CANADA AND USA
A jolly, plump, white-bearded man who wears a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, a black leather belt and boots. He lives at the North Pole with his wife Mrs Claus, their magical toy-making elves and nine flying reindeer. Santa keeps a list of nice and naughty children. Every Christmas Eve he flies his sleigh,landing on rooftops, makes his way down their chimneys and delivers presents to the good children and coal to the naughty. Father Christmas EUROPE A well-nourished, bearded man who dresses in a long, green, fur lined robe. Father Christmas resides in the mountains of Korvatunturi in the Lapland Province of Finland. He isn’t seen as a gift-giver, but as the spirit of good tidings and the joy of the Christmas season. With time, Father Christmas merged with Santa Claus and Sinterklaas as a bringer of gifts to children. He comes down the chimney and visits homes, leaving treats in children’s stockings. Children leave out mince pies and milk or brandy for him.
Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and Snow Maiden
RUSSIA AND OTHER FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS
He wears a bright long fur coat. Ded Moroz was once an evil sorcer who would kidnap children and demand presents as a ransom. He also froze people. Over time, he reformed, and now gives gifts to children in order to atone for his once-wicked ways. His granddaughter, the Snow Maiden, accompanies him on his trips. They travel by a troika of white horses. Today Ded Moroz is connected to New Year celebrations, but before 1917 he was
much more realted to Christmas. He visits December 31 or January 1.
Joulupukki (Yule Buck)
He is a white-bearded, older man dressed in a goat costume with horns. Today, he resembles the American Santa Claus. Joulupukki came about as an evil, goat-like creature who frightened people. He didn’t give gifts to the children but de- manded their good behaviour. In December, pagen people had big festivals to ward off the Joulupukki. However, then he became kind and gentle over time. He lives in Korvatunturi in Lapland, Finland with his dwarflike assistants.
St. Nicholas and Le Pére Fouettard (The Whipping Father)
PARTS OF FRANCE AND BELGIUM St. Nicholas resembles Santa Claus and rides a single donkey called Gui, meaning Mistletoe. He travels with his companion PéreFouet ta rd, his negative counterpart, who whips naughty children with rusty chains and switches. St Nicholas awards children who have behaved by placing small gifts and candy in shoes that the children leave by the fire.
She is a kind, witch-like old woman who wears a black shawl and rides a broomstick while carrying a bag of gifts. Children leave a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food for Le Befana. She climbs down the chimney to leave gifts for kids and will leave a piece of coal or ash for those who have been naughty. She is known to sweep the floor around the chimney on her way out. She does not like to be seen, and will whack any child who spies on her with her broomstick. She visits January 5.
Sinterklaas and Black Peter
NETHERLANDS He is a thin man who wears a traditional white bishop’s robe and tall red hat and holds a staff. Sinterklaas and his Black Peter, carry bag which contains candy for nice children and a chimney sweep’s broom, used to spank naughty children. Sinterklaas rides a white horse, and Black Peter brings the gifts down the chimney. Children leave drawings in their shoes and a carrot for the horse. In older versions, Black Peter would kidnap the worst of the children and take them away to Spain as punishment.
Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and golden crown who in return distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.
Grandfather Santa (Santa Haraboji)
He can sometimes look like Ameri- can Santa Claus but he can also appear wearing a traditional black brimmed hat and has Asian features. Grandfather Santa is popular with kids in Korea. Instead of piles of presents, one present (or gift of money) is customary.
Hotei-osho is a Buddhist monk who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby. Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who goes around with a red-nosed reindeer.
ICELAND The Yule Lads, traditional men from Iclandic folklore, take on the role of Santa Claus in Iceland. The 13 men each visit the 13 days before Christmas Eve. During their visits they leave behind a gift or a rotten potato in the shoes of every child, depending on the receiver’s behaviour throughout the year.
Three Wise Men
The three wise men, from the bibical story of Christmas, visit good boys and girls on January 6, leaving behind special gifts. On December 25 children break a special pinata filled with candy and treats.
BASQUE COUNTRY - SPAIN
In the Basque Country the equivalent of Santa is Olentzero, and Olentzero lives in the mountains, and he wears the boys’ traditional outfit. He is a mythical Basque character who is widely portrayed as a messenger who cries out that it is Christmas time throughout all the corners of the Basque Country. In some versions, the Olentzero is a farmer or a shepherd. He is also known as the coal man who comes down from the mountains on his pottok (wild Basque horse) to hand out presents to children. Chestnuts and wine are given to the villagers. By tradition, on December 24, the Basque television and radio stations broadcast that the Olentzero has begun his journey from the mountains to children’s homes.
In folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several countries including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, South Tyrol and parts of Northern Italy.