We know him as Santa, but Father Christmas has many names

By Bella Minyo

Everyone is familiar with Jolly Old Saint Nick or Santa Claus, but there are a multitude of different versions of “Santa” around the world. Hop into my red sleigh and let’s fly away to see what we find.

First, here’s a little background on our own Santa Claus and where he is derived from: The Santa Claus that is known and loved all throughout North America is from the Dutch legend Sinterklass. This happy ol’ fellow was brought to New York by settlers around the 17th century.

Santa in Hungary

First stop….Hungary. Hungary’s version of Saint Nicholas is known as Mikulás. Watch out, because if you’re a bad kid, Mikulás will leave you a wooden spoon or a willow switch left by a mischievous elf. On the other hand, if you’re a good kid this year, you should expect to receive fruits, toys, and candies. Children leave a boot on their windowsill in the hope that Mikulás will fill it with all kinds of goodies.

Santa in Russia

On to Mother Russia…according to legend, there was a woman with two step-daughters. One of them was wicked and the other was kind. The evil stepmother threw the nice girl out into the cold, soon though Dedt Moroz, or Father Ice, appeared in his sleigh. Impressed by the nice girl’s kindness, he gave her diamonds. Upon hearing this, the stepmother threw the wicked sister out too in hopes to get diamonds. Dedt Moroz, however, didn’t like the wicked sister and wasted no time in turning her into ice. Dedt Moroz is similar to Santa in the sense that he brings presents to children. Unlike Santa, he brings them to New Year’s parties.

Santa in Brazil

Welcome to Brazil. It’s kinda warm down here in South America this time of year, isn’t it? Turns out that since Brazil is on the other side of the equator, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer. That’s why Santa, or known here as Papai Noel, shows up from his home in Greenland wearing an outfit made of silk (Oooo, Fancy shmansy). Before going to bed on Christmas Eve, children set out their shoes, and in the morning, they find them filled with small gifts. The next day, they also look for presents hidden around the house.

Santa in Japan

Ooh is that sushi I see? Huh, oh yeah, back to the article. In Japan, Santa is called Hoteiosho. He is unlike Santa in the sense that he has eyes in the back of his head while more similarly he is an older man who carries a big sack filled with presents over his back. My back problems could NEVER handle it.

Santa in France

*super hero music plays in the background*

Père Noël, like his American counterpart, gives presents to good and well behaved children. But, wait for it, he has a SIDEKICK! His awesome sidekick that deserves more attention is Pre Fouettard who is given the usually dirty sidekick work of keeping track of who’s been naughty and been nice.

Santa in Norway

Based on the German legend of Saint Nicholas, the Norwegian Santa, Julenisse is the patron saint of children and seamen. Wasn’t expecting that one were you? Julenisse is known very well for his kindness and generosity toward children, which is why on Christmas Eve kids leave a nice toasty bowl of porridge out for him to eat. Who else is ready for a midnight snack, I know I am. During the night, Julenisse hides presents for the children throughout the house. Can you imagine if he hid a present and no one found it? What would happen? Would he give hints? Please tell me he gave hints. So many questions, not enough answers.

Santa in Finland

Yikers, Finland, are you okay? Are your children really that bad? Finland originally took the opposite approach to Christmas. Instead of a nice, jolly, happy guy showing up with gifts, Joulupukki, “Yule Buck,” was an evil, goat-like creature who didn’t bring any presents. He actually demanded children behave. Well that’s not in the Christmas spirit is it? Winter festivals were held to keep him away, and I don’t blame them for wanting to keep him away. His image later softened and the legend was changed to more closely resemble the American Santa Claus. Feeling bad aren’t ya, Finland?

Santa in Turkey

The Turkish version of America’s jolly old cookie lover is Noel Baba. According to legend, there was a shopkeeper who was too poor to supply his daughters with dowries (dowries are property or money bought by a bride to her husband on their marriage). When Noel Baba heard of their plight, he threw three bags of coins into the shopkeepers yard, saving the daughters from a life of ill repute. Now isn’t that nice? Noel Baba is also a part time wedding planner/funder. 

While this is not all the Santa’s around the world, these are some of the most popular. Some other Santa’s names from around the world are:

CountryName for Santa Clause
Afghanistan Aba Chaghaloo
AustriaChristkind
Bulgaria Dyado Koleda
CanadaQueen Mab
EgyptPapa Noel
GermanyWeihnachtsmann
HawaiiKanakaloka
IraqBaba Noe
IrelandDaidína Nollag
ItalyBabbo Natale
Mexico El Niñito Dios
PolandSwiety Mikolaj
PortugalPai Natal
RomaniaMoss Cracium
SerbiaDeda Mraz
South Africa Vader Kersfees
SpainPapai Noel
SwedenJultomten
Switzerland Christkindl
Santa Claus is known by many different names around the world.

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