The won­der­ful world of Santa Claus

The Hamilton Spectator - - GREAT GIFTS -

Santa Claus


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


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.

La Be­fana


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.

Yule Lads

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.



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.

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