How is Santa Claus around the world? (2023)

All over the world Santa Claus is recognized as theChristmas present bearer. But he's not always known as a cheerful man in a red suit. The tradition of a man bringing gifts to children dates back to stories about the ancient Greek bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra, a small town in modern-day Turkey.

Santa Claus today not only goes by various names such as Santa Claus and Old Saint Nicholas, but is also associated with various folk tales and cultural practices. There are lesser-known variations on Santa Claus here, from the beaches of Aruba to the snow-capped mountains of Finland.

Who is Nicholas?

Picturesque islands in the Caribbean include Aruba, aformer Dutch colony. The country's name means 'the happy island', with Christmas being the happiest time of the year. Arubans celebrate Christmas by honoring Sinterklaas, the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus. Every November, thousands gather in the port of Oranjestad, the capital, to greet Sinterklaas with festive songs as he arrives by ship from Spain.

National TV channels broadcast the event live, allowing families across the island to watch a long-bearded man in a red robe and 'mijter' (bishop's hat). Sinterklaas holds a long golden staff and a large book with the children's names indicating whether they have been bad or good over the year. After docking, Sinterklaas rides through town on a white horse and throws sweets and "Pepernoten", small gingerbread cookies, at the spectators.

Instead of elves, Aruba's Santa Claus is accompanied by helpers with faces painted black and colorful Moorish and Spanish robes. These servants are known as"Pete Preto" (Black Pete in Dutch) due to the myth that Sinterklaas had a helper of African origin. In 2020, the Minister of Culture Xiomara MaduroverbotenBlackface makeup and encouraged Pieten to wear multicolored makeup.

(Video) Legends of Santa Around the World | Full Documentary | TRACKS

On the night before the Sinterklaas horse's birthday, the children put their shoes outside with a carrot, hay or sugar cubes. Before they go to bed, they leave a letter saying what gift they would like. On December 5, they wake up to find the horse's treats gone, leaving Sinterklaas toys and candy in their place. Good children usually find chocolate coins, so-called chewy pieces of gingerbreadTaai-Taai and a chocolate Sinterklaas figure. Naughty children, on the other hand, get a bundle of sticks or a bag of salt.

On December 25th, family meals reflect the cultural diversity of the island. Pumpkin soup and ham are paired with "ayaca," a Venezuelan dish of cooked plantains wrapped in plantain leaves. For dessert there is a Dutch delicacy called 'oliebollen', a small fried ball of beignet-like dough. All this accompanied by Cream Punch, a Latin American drink sweeter than American eggnog. EITHERlast christmas partyIt takes place on January 6th when the Three Wise Men visit the children and leave them gifts in the manger.

How is Santa Claus around the world? (1)

Sinterklaas visits a Dutch neighborhood in Potsdam, Germany

Bernd Settnik/dpa/ZUMA

Who is Finnish Santa Claus?

Finnishbelieve in santa clauswho are they callingJoulupukki lives in Korvatunturi, a region of Finland north of the Arctic Circle. Near the area where he is believed to live, there is a theme park called Christmas Land that draws many visitors300,000 touristsyearly.

Joulupukkim, which translates to "Christmas Goat".In Finnish, it comes from the old story of a frightened goat asking people for presents. Over time, the goat became a gift giver and became a human figure instead of a goat, but the Joulupukki name stuck.

On Christmas Eve, families enjoy congee and prune juice for breakfast before heading to the local market to buy a Christmas tree. In winter it gets dark around 3 p.m. Before sunset, people often go to cemeteries to put candles in the lanterns that hang around relatives' graves.

When snow-covered graves are illuminated by bright lanterns, families return to celebrate. Pork, salt fish, mashed potatoes, and casseroles with carrots and turnip greens are some of the dishes that make up a traditional Christmas dinner. After dinner, Joulupukki arrives in a furry red suit with a large bag full of gifts.

(Video) Christmas around the world

How does Italy celebrate Christmas?

While Italians bring their version of Santa Claus, known as Babbo Natale, to bring gifts on Christmas Day, homes across the country are also visitedWitch. The old woman, covered with a dark shawl, crosses the starry sky on her broom and enters the houses through the chimney. Instead of leaving the cookies outside, Italians provide a glass of wine or panettone for La Befana to drink when January 5 rolls around to fill their stockings. His arrival is the eve ofFeast of the Epiphany of the Lord(Feast of the Epiphany), celebration of the visit of the Magi to the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

The Befana you knowCaramelFor the well-behaved children with their stockings by the fireplace. But for kids he thinks are naughty, he leaves coal in their socks. Sometimes, before Le Befana flies next door, he can even sweep the floor with his broom.

(Video) The Legends Of Santa (Christmas Documentary) | Real Stories

Ancient folklore has it that the Magi asked the Italian Christmas witch, Le Befana, to bring gifts to Jesus Christ. She declined the invitation as she was too devoted to her job as a governess, but later changed her mind and tried to follow the wizards. Le Befana failed to reach the Magi and never met Jesus. Now she's being celebrated in Italy for passing on to other children the gifts she intended for him.

How is Santa Claus around the world? (2)

La Befana leaves coal in children's socks when they are naughty

Leonora Gianinetto

How does Liberia celebrate Christmas?

In Liberia Santa Claus is replaced byold bike,a devil who doesn't give gifts but walks down the streetChristmas Dayasking for gifts In this West African nation, men dress in bright colors and lots of brown. Some stand on stilts to be as tall as possible10 cakes;others fill their garments three men wide. Old Bayka roams the streets entertaining onlookers while dancing to the beat of a drum. Turning around, he says:"My Christmas in You",which means "Please give me something for Christmas". Generous people give you money and candy while others just enjoy the show.

(Video) How to follow Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas eve journey around the world

The dancing devil of Liberia comes from the spirit world ofMiddle. These are secret societies that have been part of the spiritual and cultural landscape of African ethnic groups for centuries. Old Man Bayka is not an evil character, but "the manifestation of pure spiritual power," Max Bankole explained to Jarrett in oneNPR Article. Before American settlers arrived on the Liberian coast, these dancing devils were often seen at traditional festivals. As local converts to Christianity, they absorbed PoroSpirits at Christmas parties.

How does South Korea celebrate Christmas?

Almost half of the Korean population has no religious affiliation. 3 in 10 Koreans with ties to Christianity attend Christmas services, but for many it's just a festive time to celebrate with family and friends.

Santa Claus is known by name in South Korea.Santa Haraboji(Grandpa Santa Claus) and wears a green robe instead of the traditional red. This suit is paired with the "gat," a high, flat hat worn by nobles during theJoseon Dynastyof the thirteenth century. Saint Haraboji rarely visits individual homes, but gives gifts at public events or civic visits.

gift donationThatnot that oftenboth in Korea and western countries. On December 25, children often receive money after giving the group a musical performance or recital of poetry. Your loved ones share a meal of beef bulgogi, sweet potato japchae noodles, and kimchi.

*Deborah Laker is a contributing editor at He studied journalism and political science at Oral Roberts University.

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