Christmas gift-bringers around the world

Christmas gift-bringers around the world
Scandinavian Christmas gift-bringer, a Christmas dwarf.

Many fictional Christmas gift-bringers exist around the world.


Christmas gift-bringers around the world

Europe and North America

A white Dutch woman as Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas' helper.

Throughout Europe and North America, Santa Claus is generally known as such, but in some countries the gift-giver's name, attributes, date of arrival, and even identity varies.

  • Belgium: "Santa Claus", called Père Noël by French speakers and Kerstman ("Father Christmas") by Dutch speakers, is celebrated on Christmas Day; Sinterklaas for the Dutch speakers, Saint Nicholas for the French speakers is celebrated on December 6 and his a distinct character with a more religious, catholic touch.
  • Bulgaria: Дядо Коледа (Dyado Koleda, "Grandfather Christmas"), with the Russian-borrowed version of Дед Мороз (Djed Moroz, "Grandfather Frost") being somewhat more widespread in Socialist times from the end of World War II until 1989 and still in favour nowadays. Town of Velikiy Ustjug in Vologda region is proclaimed to be his permanent residence.
  • Canada: Santa Claus (among English speakers); Le Père Noël ("Father Christmas"), among French speakers
  • Croatia: Djed Božićnjak ("Grandfather Christmas"), or Djed Mraz (Grandfather Frost), Mali Isus ("Baby Jesus") for religious Christians, Sveti Nikola ("Saint Nichlaus") bringing gifts or rod on December the 6th
  • Estonia: Jõuluvana ("Old man of Christmas")
  • France: Le Père Noël ("Father Christmas"); Père Noël is also the common figure in other French-speaking areas)
  • Germany: Weihnachtsmann ("Christmas Man") or Christkind ("Christ Child") (in southern Germany) bring the gifts on Christmas Eve; Nikolaus is celebrated on December 6.
  • Greece: Άγιος Βασίλης ("Saint Basil")
  • Hungary: In Hungary the Angels are bringing the Christmas gifts, or the child Jesus ("Jézuska or Kis Jézus "); note that Mikulás ("Nicholas" as Santa Claus) has a separate feast day earlier (6th of Dec), puts candy in kids' boots (which are to be polished and put in the window), but Mikulás is never involved in Christmas.
  • Iceland: Jólasveinar. In Icelandic folktales, there are 13 Santa Clauses.
  • Ireland: Daidí na Nollag ("Father Christmas") among Irish speakers
  • Italy: Babbo Natale ("Father Christmas"), sometimes substituted by Gesù bambino ("Baby Jesus"), in order to give to this gift-bringing character a more catholic connotation. On the Epiphany, Jan 6th, La Befana, a very old lady who rides a broomstick brings candies and sweeties to children, and she puts them into the socks the children have prepared for her (and traditionally hung near the fireplace). In Trieste, because of Slovenian and Croatian influences, Saint Nicholas is also celebrated on the 6th December.
  • Latvia: Ziemassvētku vecītis
  • Netherlands "Santa Claus", called Kerstman ("Christmas Man"), is recently celebrated by some people on Christmas Day; Sinterklaas is celebrated on December 5.
  • Norway: Julenissen, a small, elderly man. a Christmas dwarf
  • Portugal: Pai Natal ("Father Christmas")
  • Romania: Moş Crăciun ("Old Man Christmas")
  • Russia: Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz, "Grandfather Frost"). Чысхаан, (Chyskhaan) "Lord of the Cold", Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Yamal Iri ("Grandfather of Yamal")
  • Scotland: Bodach na Nollaig (Scots Gaelic: Old Man of Christmas)
  • Serbia: Deda Mraz (Деда Мраз - Grandfather Frost) - renamed from Božić Bata (Божић Бата - Christmas Brother) during the communist times after World War II and moved from Christmas to New Year to prevent any religious connections
  • Slovakia: Ježiško (Refers to newborn(baby) Jesus); note that Mikuláš ("Nicholas" as Santa Claus) has a separate feast day earlier (6th of Dec), puts candy in kids' boots (which are to be polished and put in the window), but Mikuláš is never involved in Christmas
  • Turkey: Noel Baba ("Father Noel") Also, Noel Baba is widely thought to bring new year presents in Turkey due to the country's predominant Muslim population. Christmas is celebrated among the Christian communities.
  • United Kingdom: Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas though they were originally two quite different people, and Father Christmas did not originally bring gifts

Latin America

Santa Claus in Latin America is generally referred to with different names from country to country.

East Asia

People in East Asia, particularly countries that have adopted Western cultures, also celebrate Christmas and the gift-giver traditions passed down to them from the West.

  • China: 圣诞老人
  • Hong Kong: 聖誕老人 (literally 'The Old Man of Christmas')
  • Indonesia: Santa Claus or Sinterklas
  • Japan: サンタクロース (Santa Kuroosu, or Santa-san)
  • Korea: 산타 클로스 (Santa Harabeoji, or "Grandfather Santa")
  • Philippines: Santa Claus, Traditionally it was the Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Kings)
  • Taiwan: 聖誕老人 or 聖誕老公公 (both literally 'The Old Man of Christmas')
  • Thailand: ซานตาคลอส (Santa Claus)
  • Vietnam: Ông Già Nô-en (literally 'The Old Man of Christmas')

Central Asia

  • India: ಸಾ೦ಟಾ ಕ್ಲಾಸ್ (in southern India)
  • Tatarstan: Qış Babay/Кыш Бабай (Winter Grandfather)
  • Uzbekistan: Ayoz Bobo (Frost Grandpa), Qor Bobo (Snow Grandfather)

Africa and the Middle East

Christians in Africa and Middle East who celebrate Christmas generally ascribe to the gift-giver traditions passed down to them by Europeans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Descendants of colonizers still residing in these regions likewise continue the practices of their ancestors.[1]

  • Egypt: Baba Noel
  • Afghanistan: Baba Noel
  • Iran: Baba Noel
  • Israel: סנטה קלאוס (Santa Claus in Hebrew letters; note that most of the population in Israel is Jewish and does not recognize the entity known as 'Santa Claus')
  • South Africa: Sinterklaas; Father Christmas; Santa Claus


  • Australia: Best known as Santa Claus. Less commonly referred to as Father Christmas and Saint Nick.[1]
  • New Zealand: Santa Claus, Father Christmas

See also: Christmas worldwide

  1. ^ Tim Harcourt, Chief Economist, Australian Trade Commission. "Why exporters believe in Santa Claus". "Father Christmas, Saint Nick or, as he is better known, Santa Claus" 

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