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Santa around the world

Santa welcomes the holiday season

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Santa welcomes the holiday season

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Jolly old St. Nick is a familiar face to Americans, but his midnight travels aren’t just limited to the land of the free. Santa-esque figures are holiday staples in many cultures around the world–but traditions, names, and appearances vary from country and country and language to language.

In the United Kingdom, Christmas traditions are very similar to our own. Santa sometimes goes by “Father Christmas,” but his modus operandi is still to sneak in through the chimney and leave presents in stockings or under a tree.

Advent calendars are a huge part of christmas in Germany. A divided box, generally made of cardboard or wood, contains 24 sections. One section is opened each day leading up to Christmas, and generally contains chocolate or other candy. In Germany, Santa goes by Weihnachtsmann, and is accompanied by a sinister, demon-like figure called Krampus. While Weihnachtsmann leave presents for good children, Krampus is said to kidnap those who fail to behave. Yikes!

Santa is called le Noël Père in France. On December 5th, children leave their shoes out in front of the fireplace before going to bed. Good children are rewarded the next morning with shoes full of treats, while naughty ones receive switches.

December is warm and balmy in Australia, and Santa changes to reflect the weather. Donning short and flip-flops, he gives his reindeer a rest and instead has his sleigh pulled by six kangaroos, or “white boomers.”

In Japan, Christmas is a fairly new tradition. It generally isn’t seen as a religious holiday because there are few Christians in Japan, so the main focus of the holiday is spreading happiness and being thankful for family. In Japan, Santa goes by “Santa-San,” meaning “Mr. Santa.”

Christmas is not celebrated throughout the majority of China, but large cities may decorate for it with trees and lights. Chinese Santa is called “Sheng dan lao ren,” which roughly means “Old Christmas man.”

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Santa around the world