Santa’s original name is Saint Nicholas, and was a patron saint famous for giving generous gifts to the poor. The pronunciation of Saint Nicholas in Dutch is Sinnterklaas. Sinnterklaas eventually morphed into Sinter Klaus, which further morphed into the now-famous Santa Claus. Below are 8 different names and traditions of various languages/nationalitie
In the UK, US and Canada, “Santa Claus” or “Father Christmas” is believed to travel around the world sporting a red suit on his sleigh, pulled by reindeer.
He comes down the chimney the night before Christmas (between 24 and 25 December), leaving presents for children under the Christmas tree! Children often leave Christmas stockings by the fireplace that Santa can fill with small gifts and sweets.
Some families will leave a snack for him for his travels. In the UK, it’s common to leave a mince pie (a traditional festive pastry) and a glass of whisky / sherry for Santa, and a carrot for the reindeer!
We’re wouldn’t be surprised if you struggled with the pronunciation for Santa Claus in German!
The festive season in Germany starts early, with Nikolaustag – St. Nicholas Day – on 6th December. It is thought that St. Nicholas comes in the night, and puts presents in the children’s shoes, which are usually polished (kids have got to get in Santa’s good books somehow!) and placed by their front doors the evening before.
In some parts of Germany, das Christkind (Christ child) is thought to bring children presents on Christmas Eve. Children also write to him asking for presents before Christmas. They even decorate their letters by gluing sugar to the envelope!
In other parts of the country, der Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus) is the one who brings presents to the children. Traditionally, German people open their presents on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day.
In Italy, Babbo Natale is thought to deliver presents at Christmas. Italian families start collecting presents at the start of December and they are opened either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning.
It is also believed that the witch, La Befana, arrives during the night of 5th January bringing smalls gifts, sweets and dried fruits which she leaves in the socks of the good children.
In Russia, Christmas is actually celebrated on 7th January, which is the Orthodox Christmas, and therefore goes by a different calendar.
However, people do also exchange presents on New Year’s Eve. It is believed that Ded Moroz (the Russian and interpretation of and name for Santa Claus) brings presents with the help of his granddaughter, Snegurka. The tradition goes that children make a circle around the Christmas tree and call for Ded Moroz and Snegurka. When they appear, the star and other lights on the Christmas tree light up.
In Poland, it is generally believed that Święty Mikołaj brings presents which are opened after the Christmas Eve supper is finished. Sometimes the adults tease the children by dragging out the meal so they have to wait longer for the presents!
In some parts of Poland, there are different traditions. In the east, presents are given by Dziadek Mróz (the same as Ded Moroz in Russia) and in western and northern Poland people believe that Gwiazdor (the starman) brings them.