There are more Santas in the world than you think
Do you know that Santa has a different name in practically every country he visits? Let's discover some of these names together!
Try to guess where these Santas come from and then check your answer!
The Joulupukki is originally a pagan tradition. The Joulupukki may also be a man turned into a goat-man on Christmas Eve, as seen in Elsa Beskow's “Peter and Lotta's Christmas”. However, the figure is now being eventually conflated with Santa Claus. He usually wears warm red robes, uses a walking stick, and travels in a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer, which cannot fly like Santa Claus's fleet.
Mikulás arrives to celebrate his day, December 6, and leaves before Christmas. Сhildren traditionally place a boot on their windowsill waiting for Mikulás to come by and fill it with treats. He often comes with two assistants: a good Angel who gives out presents to good children and a “Krampusz”, a mean elf, in some version a Devil, who punishes bad children.
The story of Julenisse is traced back centuries when people believed in Nisser (elves, leprechauns, spirits or mystical entities rarely or never seen directly). His main goal is to bring good fortune to the family and to achieve this, he would have to be treated well especially around Jul (December). People traditionally feed him, and if Julenisse is satisfied with the meal he’ll bring good fortune to the household in the coming year.
Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus. A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany. Some suggest that Befana is descended from the Roman goddess named Strenia. She visits all the children to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. She is also referred to as the Christmas Witch.
#5 Ded Moroz
Ded Moroz is depicted as bringing presents to well-mannered children, often delivering them in person on New Year's Eve. He is often accompanied by Snegurochka, his granddaughter and helper, who wears long silver-blue robes and a furry cap or a snowflake-like crown. She is a unique attribute of Ded Moroz, since similar characters in other cultures do not have a female companion.
Sinterklaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. He wears a long red cape or chasuble over a traditional white bishop's alb and sometimes red stole and a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top. Sinterklaas is assisted by Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"), a helper dressed in Moorish attire and in blackface. He also carries a big, red book in which is written whether each child has been good or naughty in the past year.
#7 Père Noël
Sometimes Père Noël is called Papa Noël ("Daddy Christmas"). He travels with his donkey, Gui ("Mistletoe"). That’s why according to tradition, children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for the pet before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good the whole year, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes — candy, money or small toys.
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