Saturday, August 21, 2010


The Jolly Old Man In The Big Red Suit!
   Santa's history is long and varied but for many decades the American Santa has been a universal figure in English speaking countries.  With the 20th century revival of globalization and the advent of the internet, Santa Claus has become a prime Christmas figure in every corner of the globe.
   Although other countries have long had different gift-giver characters, Santa is now number one in much of the world.  So  with that in mind let's take a brief trip around the world and find out about Santa Claus in other countries.
  •    In Brazil Santa is known as Papai Noel and in Rio he arrives by helicopter to kick off Christmas celebrations on December 20th.
  • In Austria and Switzerland Santa Claus has all but replaced Austria's traditional gift giver, Christkind or the "Christ child."  Many Austrians are attempting to overthrow Santa and bring Christkind back in preeminence.
  • In Germany the traditional Santa is known as Weihnachtsman or "Christmas man" but as in Austria, the red suitedanta Santa Claus is making himself widely known.
  • Russia's Christmas figure was St. NIcholas until the rise of communism.  Under Stalin St. Nick was replaced by Ded Moroz (Dead Moron) or Grandfather Frost who dressed in green or blue rode in a sleigh pulled by three horses.  Grandfather Frost wasn't as kindly a gentleman as Santa.  Today Santa Claus is back in full force and Grandfather Frost takes a back seat.
  • In Asia people of many counries have adopted Santa Claus, is it any wonder?  Every year fleets of ships are filled with American Christmas gifts that are made in Asia.
  • Iceland's gift giver legends include 13 Santa figures, known as the Jolasveinar.  But beware; a pair of mischievous ogres go on a 14 day trickster spree prior to Christmas.
  • In France and other countries around the world with French legacies the traditional Santa is known as Pere Noel (Father Christmas).  Old Pere loves giving gifts to good boys and girls but like every superhero, he's accompanied by a sidekick, a ghoulish character named Le Pere Fouettard (Father Spanking).   It's Pere Pouettard's job to whip bad boys and girls with switches he carries with him.  Don't be a naughty boy or girl in France!
   That's just a small amount of Santa Claus identities around the world.  It doesn't appear the white bearded and red suited Ol' Santa will slow down any time soon on his conquest of the world and beyond.