Is Santa Claus different in other countries?

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Santa, as portrayed in the US, is fat a fat, jolly, white-bearded man who wears a fuzzy red and white outfit. Is this the norm for other countries as well, or are there differences?

  1. Santa is indeed different in different countries and cultures. I find this question very interesting as I like to teach my children about how others celebrate and view the holidays, and of course, Santa is one of the most important thing about the holidays for the little ones! So, here I will list some of the most notable Santa’s around the world for your infotainment.

    Santa in Germany

    Santa in Germany is called Christkind. He dresses in white robes and a gold crown on his head. German children write their letters to Christkind and place them in the window for him to find when he comes. Many times these wish lists are decorated using sugar stuck on with glue to add sparkle, making sure that the letters are noticed. For the German people, Christkind is a messenger from the Christ Child and is an angel sent to bring gifts to the good children of Germany. In German homes, there is a room chosen to be the Christmas room. On Christmas Eve this room is locked up and the children are taken to bed. At midnight they are awoken by their parents and taken to the locked room to see what gifts have been left for them by Christkind. For more on Christmas in Germany go to http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/worldxmas/germany.htm.

    Santa in France

    Santa in France is called Pere Noel. French children leave their shoes in the living room, by a fireplace if they have one, and Pere Noel fills them with sweet treats. In exchange for him leaving them treats, the children leave carrots for his donkey. He also hangs gifts on the trees and under the trees. Pictures I have found of Pere Noel depict an older man who is skinny and has a long white beard and don’s brown robes. Pere Noel has a traveling companion named Pere Fouettard who served to make sure kind hearted Pere Noel took into consideration the behavior of each child to ensure that the undeserving did not receive any gifts. For more on Christmas in France go to http://french.about.com/cs/culture/a/christmas.htm.

    Santa in Russia

    In Russia, Santa is called Ded Moroz. In English this name means grandfather frost. Many Russian people who are English speaking call him Father Frost. Father Frost dresses in a long coat that is red, ice blue, gold and silver that is unmistakably Russian. His coat has white fur trim all around it and wears a Russian hat that is also trimmed with lots of white fur. It is different than the American Santa’s hat as it does not have a point or a ball – it is simply a cap. He has a long and white beard and walks with a tall staff. He wears black leather boots “(Russia is COLD) and does not use reindeer. Instead he uses 3 horses that are fast as lightening. One huge difference is that this Santa does not bring gifts on Christmas. His gifts are delivered on New Year’s Eve. For more on Christmas in Russia go to http://www.santas.net/russianchristmas.htm.

    Santa in Spain

    In Spain, instead of Santa, the Three Wise Men are the gift bearers. And, the children do not get their gifts on Christmas Day but instead on January 6th which was the date that the Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus. They get gifts on the day of Epiphany, January 6th. After the traditional feast, the children believe that the Magi travel the country in order to reenact their trip to Bethlehem. As they travel though, children leave their shoes on the windowsills filled with goodies for the horses. The most loved Magi is called Balthazar, the rider of the donkey. He is the one in particular that is thought to actually leave the presents. For more on Christmas in Spain go to http://www.donquijote.org/culture/spain/fiestas/navidad.asp.

    Santa in Japan

    Japan is not an overwhelmingly Christian country and therefore the Christmas holiday is not celebrated heavily. However, most do decorate for the season and children do get presents. Instead of Santa, there is a Buddhist monk by the name of Hotei-osho. Like Santa, he brings gifts to the children who have been good all year. It is said that Hotei-osho has eyes in the back of their head so kids are sure to be extra good just in case he is nearby. For those who are Christian, their children do not get gifts from Hotei-osho but from the traditional American Santa Claus. For more on Christmas in Japan go to http://tanutech.com/japan/jxmas.html.

    It is amazing to see just how differently people view Santa or Santa type figures in different countries. I think that this year I will make a new tradition of teaching my children about how the kids in other countries celebrate Christmas and what Santa looks like to them! Here is where I will be getting the bulk of my information: http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/.

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