Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Santa Claus Around the World

Santa By Any Other Name . . .
by Martha Rogers

Santa is one of those Christmas traditions and legends to resonate around the world. The image of Santa brings up wonderful childhood memories of the jolly old man with white hair and beard dressed in a red suit trimmed in white fur.

The legend of Santa dates back to the third century to a saint known as St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children. He was born in Patara in what is now modern day Turkey where he is now known as Noel Baba. He traveled the country giving away his wealth to the poor and needy. His popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children. Even after the Protestant Reformation, he remained in his position and evolved into the Santa we know today.
Santa in his workshop

However, the red suit trimmed in fur is not his only look. Countries around the world have their own names and clothing for Santa, and that makes him even more intriguing.

Few other holidays are celebrated around the world like Christmas, and I love the different looks of Santa and his names from different countries. I have a collection of Santas from different countries and put them out every year simply because I enjoy looking at them. 
Some are nearly 60 years old and others are more recent as I've collected them over the years.

Our version of Santa is derived from Sinnterklaas, the man they celebrate in Holland. Here is how he looks to the children in the Netherlands.


 The names for Santa Claus vary from country to country. Here are a few.                                                                                                                
English: Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle which comes from the German word Christkind (Christ Child)

This Santa travels the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. He wears the red suit trimmed in fur. He comes down the chimney (if you have one) sometime between the later hours of Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning. He leaves toys under the tree for the children living in the home. One American tradition has the children leaving milk and cookies as a snack for Santa. In England the snack is a mince pie with a glass of sherry for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.

France: Here he is Pere or Papa Noel which means Father Christmas. In France he arrives sometime between December 23 and 25. A man in a dark suit is said to accompany him so he can punish the children who misbehave. 

Canada dresses him a little differently, but he is still Papa Noel accompanied by his Husky dog.  

Spanish: Various Spanish speaking countries have different traditions regarding Santa. In Spain he is Papa Noel and delivers his gifts sometime on December 24th or 25th, or he may wait until January 6, for the Three Kings.

In South America, a family member may dress as Father Noel and hand out gifts while the children try to guess which family member is dressed as Papa Noel. In countries like Mexico and Venezuela, presents might also be brought by El Niñito Dios (baby Jesus) or Santo Clós (Santa Claus).

Germany: This is the most difficult to pronounce: Weihnachtsmann. (The Christmas Man) In parts of Germany, Christmas starts early on Nikolastag or St. Nicolas Day, on December 6. St. Nicholas comes in the night, and puts presents in the children’s shoes, which are usually polished and placed by their front doors the evening before.

Some parts of the country believe the gifts are brought by das Christkind (Christ child) on Christmas Eve. Children also write to him asking for presents before Christmas. They might even use sugar to decorate those envelopes.

Other parts Germany look to der Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus) as he one who brings the presents. When gifts are opened, it is on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day.

Russia: Here he is known as Dedt Moroz. Unlike our Santa, he delivers gifts to New Year’s parties.

Hungary: Children set out their boots on the window sill to be filled with treats by Mikulas. Naughty children will receive a wooden spoon or a willow switch left by one of the mischievous elves.

 Other Versions of Santa:

Santa in Scandinavia
                                              Santa in Scotland  
                                                           Santa in Slovakia                                                          

Santa in Switzerland

No matter where you may live, a version of Santa will find you. His legend has grown throughout the years, and movies and magical stories makes us almost believe he is real. 

Last month, we had no winner, so I'm adding the names from there to this month in a give-away of my new Christmas novella, Legacy of Love. Leave a comment and your email address and your name will be in the drawing. Here's the question to answer in comments:

 What is one of your favorite family traditions at Christmas.

Garrison Cole says he’s no longer the jerk of high school, but Kelly Graves has a difficult believing him even though he’s now using his wealth to make the lives of others better. As she works with him on Christmas projects for their church mission center and the children’s hospital, her heart warms to him and her trust returns. Then she learns the truth of his grandmother’s will and her trust goes out the window. Garry has only until Christmas to win back her trust or lose her love forever. Will she listen or keep her heart a closed door?

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Since receiving her first novel contract at age 73, Martha has written and published over 50 books. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.
Find Martha at:,                   Twitter: martharogers2                                                                                   Facebook:                                    


  1. Thanks for your post! I enjoyed seeing your collection of Santa figures. My favorite Christmas tradition was putting the stockings on the kids' beds so they can find them in the morning. Gave us a bit more sleep when they were younger. I've always loved filling up the stockings. bcrug(at)twc(dot)com

    1. Now that sounds like a wonderful idea and a great tradition! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I loved reading about the different Santa's! We have a couple of traditions that we do for Christmas. The first one is to go find a Christmas tree and then decorate together. The next one that I enjoy is the baking and decorating Christmas cookies together. My kids are getting older and I know they will eventually leave the nest, but I'm enjoying doing things together while we can. jumpforjoy at gmail dot com.

    1. What wonderful memories you're making. The tree was one of our traditions as well.The three boys weren't much into cookie making, but the grands were and we had some great times. Treasure every minute you have with yours now. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. My favorite traditions is having Christmas breakfast with the grandchildren
    Theresa N
    weceno at yahoo dot com