Tuesday, December 14, 2010


   Christmas is a Holy Christian observance that is often celebrated with imaginative, fanciful traditions from folklore and legend.  Santa Claus is a legendary personality, similar to St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Sinterklass, and Julenisse.  Christkindl, representing the Christ Child, started bringing small gifts to children in Germany during the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther, St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and German Christkindl.
   Christmas personalities are authority figures who bring gifts to good children.  In some cultures the Santa Claus figure is feared because he knows all and sees all and may decide children are bad and leave nothing or something like a lump of coal.
   As people move around the world, traditions mix and change with time.  The United States is a melting pot of cultures with different traditions observed by the many ethnic groups in the country.  Likewise, many cultures may adopt the traditions of neighboring countries.
   The following are some different Santa figures and traditions around the world.


  • Austria- St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated on December 6th.  Christmas Eve is when families gather for dinner.  Christkindl, a young woman dressed in robes, visits Austrian homes and gives gifts to children.

St. Nicholas

Pere Noel

  • Belgium- Dutch speaking Belgians are visited by St. Nicholas on December 6th.  Francophone's are visited by Pere Noel on December 6th.

Father Christmas

  • EnglandFather Christmas fills stockings or pillowcases with presents for children.


  • Finland- Finns know that Santa Claus, also called Jouloupukki, lives in the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland.  Since Santa lives so close to the children in Finland, he is able to visit them while they are still awake and able to greet the "Jolly Old Elf."



  • Germany- There are different traditions in Germany, depending upon the region and religion.  St. Nicholas Day is observed by Catholic Families, Christkindl, an angelic figure in a white robe representing the Christ Child, visits many Protestant homes.  There is also a Santa Claus type figure called Weihnachtsmann who brings gifts.

St. Nicholas

  • Hungary- December 6th is St. Nicholas Day, an important winter holiday in Hungary.  Children leave their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with chocolate candy and other goodies.

Father Christmas

  • Ireland- Children in Ireland leave stockings or pillowcases at the end of their beds, hoping that Father Christmas will visit and fill them with treats.

La Befana

  • Italy- The Italian equivalent of Santa Claus is La Befana.  The elderly, witch like woman flies above Italy on a broomstick to give gifts to the children on Epiphany Day.

Papa Noel

  • Lebanon- Papa Noel is the Santa Claus in Lebanon.  Children wait for Papa Noel to leave presents near the manger under the Christmas tree.

St. Nicholas and Black Peter

  • Luxembourg- St. Nicholas is accompanied by his servant Black Peter (Houseker).  Children leave out plates for St. Nicholas on December 5th to be filled with fruits, nuts and sweets.


  • Mexico-  The Magi leave gifts for children on Christmas Eve.


  • Netherlands- Sinterklaas is St. Nicholas in the Netherlands.  Dutch children put wooden shoes filled with hay and sugar for Sinterklaas' horse.  Good children receive shoes full of sweet treats.




Santa Claus

  • Norway- Elfin beings called Nisse are part of the Norwegian folklore.  Norwegians offer Christmas Eve porridge to the Julenisse who lives in the barn to avoid elfin trickery and mischief by Fjonisse, who lives in the barn and cares for animals.  Santa brings gifts for the children on Christmas. 


  •  Puerto Rico- The Magi, or three Kings-Malchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, visit and leave gifts for children in Puerto Rico.

Grandfather Frost and handmaiden

St. Nicholas

  • RussiaSt. Nicholas delivered Christmas gifts in Russia until communist rule, when Grandfather Frost took over.  Grandfather Frost usually wears a blue suit instead of the red suit of Santa Claus.  A handmaiden accompanies Grandfather Frost.

St. Nicholas

Slovenia- St. Nicholas and mischievous elves visit to scare children who have misehaved during the year.

Santa Claus
  • South Pacific Islands- Santa Claus arrives on the beach in a magical canoe.


  • Sweden- The Christmas gnome, called Tomte, is supposed to live under the floorboards of the house or barn.  Tomte brings a sack of gifts and distributes them to kids.


  • Switzerland- The Christkindl appears as a beautiful angel dressed in white and lights the candle on the Christmas tree and distributes gifts to children.

Santa Claus

  • United States- Santa Claus flies in a sled drawn by flying reindeer and slides down the chimney to deliver gifts to children.  St. Nicholas also visits many homes on St. Nicholas Day.


   I have been seeing a great many Christmas articles lately and there is a question that should be answered at this time of year.  What did the "Three Kings" see?  A common Question to be sure and it does tickle the mind for Christians that believe something came to pass, that could not have been ordinary.
   So where do we start on this small exposition?  Let's start with the Kings.  We know them as Kings however, they were not really "Kings", they were scientist priests, well versed in astrology and were most honored by the ruling class of that time and place.  The word "king" was used by the Christian writer Tertullian in 120 A.D. when speaking of the priests as Magi.  What made these men so important during the time of Christ's birth was their ability to interpret the celestial heavens, in particular, heralds.

   Because the Magi found prognostic events within the night sky, the Hebrews of that time and place found this constituted a form of divination and thus, was considered pagan and could never have been acknowledged by their God, Yahweh.  Therefore, the Magi must have come from outside the Hebrew country and according to the bible, they came from the east (Mathew 2:1).  The Magi were Hellenists or Greek and therefore would have come from the east to the Judea countryside, just as the bible state correctly.
   The Magi used calculations that took into account the orbital mechanics of the solar system and constellations afforded by the sky.  That is, where a certain planet or constellation would be in the future.  This form of astrology was vastly different from the simplistic observational positions the Babylonians used.  Did they see a star or predict one?  No.  They did not.  So what happened to generate such a willingness to travel vast distances to a specific location searching for a specific individual?  They studied planetary motion, not a people or a place.

Night sky Constellations

   Remember the herald?  2,000 years ago the stars that individuals and the Magi saw at night were constant in their count and placement within the sky.  For this reason they were given shapes and those shapes took many forms.  We know them today as the zodiac and because some constellations passed over certain countries and lands, they took the meaning of those countries and lands.
   The constellation known as Aries had the symbol of a Ram and related to Syria, Idumea and Judea.  In 6 A.D. the area of Judea was placed under Syria.  Prior to,  it was independent.  Therefore, any person seeking council from the zodiac would have used the sign of an Aries or Ram for its portents.  Additionally, because Judea was Incorporated with Syria and Herod was the King of Syria and Palestine, his astrologers would have also been monitoring that same constellation.  The Magi could predict where certain signs would be and this was most revealing one morning.

Constellation of Aries
   Genesis 1:14 states, "And God said let there be lights in the firmament....let them be for signs".  The Ram in this particular sign is a lamb, not fully grown as yet.  The lamb means to reign, have dominion or government.  Additionally, the ram considered was also crowned with a circle.  The most ancient name for this animal was "Baraziggar" or the "sacrifice of the righteousness.  This alone would not have induced the Magi to travel so far, so what was the importance?  It is, I believe, that the observation seen by the Magi was so statistically unbelievable that  its occurrence had never happened or would never happen again.  They had to be in wonder and awe beyond belief.  All the planets that represented a king using Aries as the sign would have: the sun, Jupiter and Saturn in it.  No big deal, it occurs every sixty years.  The second point regarding a royal birth for consideration was the placement within the sky.  Another point is whether the sign is ascending in the east or setting in the west as well as what signs are in procession.  There is also a consideration of where the rising signs are located, meaning if their locations in the sky are closer  to the horizon or at the highest point in mid heaven during their observation, all of this is very significant.

   The sun and moon have their role to play as well.  The sun is considered to be of the most regal signature (Sun: King, moon: Queen) and have five planets that attend it because of that issue.  The last piece of this puzzle was exaltation.  This can be defined as the planetary location within a specific sign.  Example: If the Sun were in The Aries.  This would give impetus to the Sun's power in regal stature.  Bright lights were important also.  If Jupiter was seen as a bright light in a certain sign, which would lend importance to the overall signature event.
   On April 17, 6 B.C., the morning sky must have rendered the Magi into an unbelievable state.  Was there a star, no?  In the morning sky, was an unfolding event so rare as to defy anything they had ever seen or could hope to ever see.

   Aries was in ascendant, rising over the eastern horizon.  All seven planets were in that Judea sign.  This get better.  When the Aries was in the mid heaven position, all seven planets were also in the Judea sign.  Continuing, the Sun was in exaltation within the sign of The Aries at dawn and mid heaven along with both ruling planets of Jupiter and Saturn.  The guardians of the sun being Jupiter and Saturn, proceeded immediately before the rising dawn.  This was not all.  The attendants of the moon (Queen), Mercury and Mars were there as well.
   The Magi had to be stunned on April 17, 6 B.C., someone of incredible significance was born, or about to be born in Judea.  Probabilities of this magnitude "defy statistical quantification".  The statistical alignments of seven planets in a specific orbital location, in front of specific stars that are moving through space and light years away at a specific point in the rotation of earth, all in motion and with different orbital mechanical probabilities, defy its occurrence.  Yet, that is what happened.
   That is why the Magi were compelled to travel to a distant location they were not aware of.  Also, they were indeed guided by a planetary source but it was not just one star.