By Katie S.
In the United States, children recognize ‘Santa Claus’ as the person who puts presents under their Christmas tree. But not everyone around the world has heard of Santa Claus. For example, in Britain there is a Father Christmas, in the Netherlands there is a Sinterklaas, and in France there is a Père Noël. Each one of these Christmas figures has a story that is similar to but not exactly the same as Santa Claus’s.
Santa Claus, who you’ve probably all heard of, wears a fur-lined red outfit and a red hat. On Christmas Eve, Santa rides a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer to deliver presents to kids around the world. In return children usually leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and maybe some carrots for his reindeer. Santa lives in the North Pole, and his toys are made by elves. If you’re on Santa’s nice list you get presents, but if you’re on the naughty list you get coal.
Father Christmas from Britain looks similar to Santa Claus, but is dressed in a fur-lined green robe. He is otherwise the same as Santa Claus in almost every way.
Sinterklaas is from the Netherlands, and is very different from Santa. Sinterklaas lives in Spain rather than the North Pole, and leaves presents in kid’s shoes rather than under a Christmas tree. He also distributes presents on December 5th rather than on Christmas Eve. He arrives at the Netherlands on a steam boat, and from there travels around on a white horse called Amerigo.
Père Noël is the French version of Santa Claus. He delivers presents after evening mass on Christmas Eve, and puts treats in kid’s shoes or slippers rather than stockings. Instead of getting coal in their stockings as a punishment for being naughty, children will fear Le Père Fouettard, who follows Père Noël and has whips to beat badly behaved children.
In Nordic countries the original bringer of gifts was the Yule Goat. But, the goat was later replaced by St. Nicholas, who dresses in grey clothes and a red hat.
Some other names for Santa Claus include: Papa Noel (Latin America), Babbo Natale (Italy), Christkind (Austria), Ded Moroz (Russia), Hoteiosho (Japan), and Dun Che Lao Ren (China).
If you want to know the name of Santa Claus in another country, this website lists the Santa Clauses in almost every part of the world: