Santa Claus

What are the names for Santa Claus around the world?


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2009-12-26 11:51:43
2009-12-26 11:51:43
Names Around the World for Santa ClausWho Is Santa Claus?:

The jolly elf most Christian teens know as Santa Claus goes by many other names around the world. Like many Christmas symbols and traditions he has evolved from old stories and practices. In some cases his stories are based on actions by real people that have acted to add some joy into others' lives. Still, he is a quintessential symbol of Christmas as we know it.

St. Nicholas: Once there was a monk known as St. Nicholas. He was born in Patara (near what we now know as Turkey) in 280 AD. He was known to be very kind, and that reputation led to many legends and stories. One story involved him giving away his inherited wealth while he helped those who were sick and poor around the country. Another story is that he saved three sisters from being sold into slavery. Eventually he became known as the protector of children and sailors. He died on December 6th, and so there is now a celebration of his life on that day.

Sinter Klass:

The Dutch maintained the celebration of St. Nicholas far more than other cultures, and brought that celebration to America. The Dutch gave St. Nicholas the nickname, "Sinter Klass", and by 1804 woodcuts of Sinter Klass came to define modern day images of Santa. Washington Irving popularized Sinter Klass in The History of New York by defining him as the patron saint of the city.

The American version of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus originally came from the Dutch version called Sinter Klaas. The Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) brought this fun and lively tradition (some even say cult) to America. In Greek, St. Nicholas is known as Hagios Nikolaos, Bishop of Myra (in the present day Turkey), St Nicholas reportedly died on December 6th. 350 AD.

Today, this mythical character is still alive and well and is known all over the world as: Nicholas of Myra, Santa Claus or "Santa" in America.

His fame spread rapidly during the Middle Ages and thousands of churches are dedicated to him.

He has been the patron saint of Russia, Moscow, Greece, children, sailors, prisoners, bakers, pawnbrokers, shopkeepers and wolves.

His gift-giving role in Christmas rites probably follows from his fame as the friend of children. The story also tells that he used to give anonymous donations of gold coins to persons in need. His cult spread in Europe and Christmas presents were distributed on December 6th when the celebration of St. Nicholas took place.

In many countries this day is still the day of Christmas gift-giving, although there is a mounting pressure everywhere to conform to the custom of 24th/25th December. The relics of St.Nicholas are in the basilica of St. Nicola, in Bari, Italy (they were stolen from Myra in 1087 AD). For this reason he is sometimes known as St.Nicholas of Bari.

Epiphany remains a part of the holiday season in Puerto Rico and is a day off from school. Giving gifts then is more for traditional values than the actual gift-giving celebration. Unless one wants to make a specific statement about the importance of maintaining traditional purity (anti-commercialism) and disassociation from American influence.

However, the celebration of Epiphany is not just in Puerto Rico. Some nations say it is the 3 Kings who bring the toys, while others credit Baby Jesus, since it was He who received and wants to share.

In Italy Babbo Natale, which means Father Christmas, is Santa. Children put a pair of their shoes by the door on the day before Epiphany and the following morning they find them filled with small gifts and candy. Italy, like Spain, Portugal and most of the Latin American nations ( or countries speaking Romance languages ), is mostly Catholic. December 25 is a day of more religious observance, remembering the birth of Christ. The Epiphany, called Little Christmas, is the day for gift giving. However, Babbo Natale does come on Christmas Eve in some parts of Italy.

In Spain children leave their shoes under the Christmas tree the night of January 5th and presents from the Three Kings (Los Reyes Magos: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) appear the next morning. Santa Claus is called Papa Noel and some children receive presents both days on December 24th (from Papa Noel) and on January 6th (from the Three Kings).

In Morocco he is known as Black Peter

In Japan, Santa Clause is called Santa Clause or just "Santa". Children often call him "Santa no ojisan," which means "Uncle Santa." (This information comes to you via the courtesy of Mr. Kazuo Miyasako of Dokkyo University. Many thanks go to the readers of Lone Star Internet)

In Sweden Jultomten visits the evening before Christmas day, pulling a big bag of julklappar (Christmas presents) in the deep snow.

På Žorsk ( in Norwegian ) "Julenissen" arrives on the evening of the 24th.

In the Netherlands, he is called Kerstman.

In Finland, he is called Joulupukki.

Sinter Klaas in Dutch. He rides a white horse, leaving gifts in wooden shoes

In Russia, he is called Grandfather Frost that is "ded moroz" (the second "o" has its accent and the last "z" is pronouned as "s".)

He is also called Kris Kringle - which comes from the German term "the Christ Child" (Christ Kind).

Joulupukki This name comes from the country Finland. Literally meaning: Yule Buck. This Old pagan tradition remained strong in Finland but got a Christian flavor as time went by. Pagan people used to have festivities to ward off evil spirits. In Finland these spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. The Christmas Goat was an ugly creature and frightened children.

It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. The process was probably a continuous amalgamation of many old folk customs and beliefs from varied sources. One can speak of a Christmas pageant tradition consisting of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, house gnomes, whatnot. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus.

Popular radio programs from the year 1927 onwards probably had great influence in reformatting the concept with the Santa-like costume, reindeer and Korvatunturi (Mount Ear, near Polar Circle) as its dwelling place. Because there really are reindeer in Finland, and we are living up North, the popular American cult took root in Finland very fast. Maybe some caring soul decided the Joulupukki is just too scary for little kids.

Today, Finland is one of the few countries where kids actually see Father Christmas in the act of delivering the presents and probably the only country where the Saint really does ask the children if they behaved during the year

Father Christmas Generally Father Christmas is known as a bearded old man in a fur costume who appears in Yuletide and gives presents. His characteristics can be divided roughly into two groups:

Those with traditional religious significance, those with pagan origin Origins of Santa's many funny traditions and customs: Gifts: From St. Nicholas and the Magi (The three wise men from the Orient in the New Testament), Beard: St. Nicholas is traditionally seen as bearded. The Magi are also bearded! Costume: The general form of the cloak probably derives from St. Nicholas, although the traditional costumes of the three Magi also may have contributed. The fur linings probably are add-ons to fit the Northern American Myth. Reindeer: Santa must use some form of transport. He comes from the North, so why not reindeer? In Scandinavia and Germany Santa comes on the 24th of December, knocking on the door like normal people. The Stocking and chimney: In England and America the visit is a secret and is done at night. Why he comes in via the chimney probably stems from Clement C. Moore's enormously popular poem. North Pole: The home of the American Father Christmas. Probably connected with the general "Northern Exposure" of American Christmas lore. Also, the fact that Christmas is so very much Winter's festivity must contribute. Cap: Probably from the bishop's Mitre of St. Nicholas. Curiously enough the Mitre resembles and possibly derives from the headgear of old Magi (mages, Persian priests. the other Christmas present givers). The Phrygian headgear of French Revolution fame might be another influence.

Hope that helps!

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