Santa, St Nicholas arrives early in Holland with his gifts, in November. He is dressed in Bishop's robes and journeys in a boat with his helper who is called Black Peter and who wears Spanish clothes. Throughout the year they prepare lists of presents and writing every child's behavior in a very large book, which Santa is holding. Many people go to Amsterdam docks to greet him. He mounts a snow horse and rides through the streets in a great parade, amid many festivities. His bag is filled with toys that represent many aspects of a Christmas in Holland; the toy boat, traditional wooden shoes, horse, and Black Peter doll.
Sweden, a country full of folklore, myths, and ancient customs, has incorporated many of them into their Christmas festivities, not in the least of those being the presence of the ubiquitous tomte, little curmudgeons that create joy and havoc during the holiday season with their pranks. As they usually live in the barns or woods, they are hard to spot, but at Christmas, a bowl of porridge must be set out for the tomte so that they are appeased and don’t get carried away with their mischievous deeds. Swedish Santa is sitting down to have a talk with them, a little reprimand and encouragement to behave so that he can go about his business of delivering gifts to Swedish children. A bluebird will help keep an eye on things and report back to Santa if the tomte get out of line, which they surely will. It wouldn’t be Christmas in Sweden without tomte pranks! Santa sits in a uniquely, carved chair. It is reminiscent of the many wonderful thrones throughout the land that Santa sits on while visiting boys and girls. Ornate wood carving roots are found in Germany and these wood carvers are still known for this talent today.
Santa Claus was born in United States in the 1860's. He had a white beard and a big belly, so he was named Santa Claus as this was the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sintaklaas. Santa is carrying a toy Reindeer, named Rudolph. This reindeer represents the many songs of the season and one of the children’s favorite is “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. He also carries a brand new doll for a good little girl. Dolls have been placed under the Christmas tree for thousands of girls each year by good old Santa Claus.
Santa is dressed like a Gaucho and wears the traditional, brightly colored woven shawl. The Gaucho was prevalent in the 19th century more than the present day. Then gauchos made up the majority of the rural population, herding cows on the vast Estancias, and practicing hunting. They wore heavy leather chaps and their best companion is their horse. Santa has filled his leather bag, hanging from his trusty horse with a wide variety of fruits that will be used for a holiday toast. The toast will be given by ne of the elders in the family before the Christmas meal. As Santa makes his way to Buenos Aires, the scent of orange blossoms, jasmine, and honeysuckle is in the air, and lots of beautifully-colored flowers are everywhere at Christmas time, giving Santa a feast for his senses.
People go to the church on Christmas Eve and then come back to a family gathering. The older generation will dance while younger people go out to see the fireworks. This celebration is very special because the majorities of Argentina’s are Christian and celebrate Jesus' birth on the 24th of December. Houses are decorated with red and white garlands; on the door Father Christmas's Boots are placed. The Christmas tree is decorated with colored lights, ornaments and Father Christmas placed on top of it. Mothers make different kinds of meals such as roasted turkey, roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes, mince pies, Christmas's bread and puddings. For the holiday toast, a special drink is prepared with different kinds of fruit, cut into pieces, and then it is mixed with juice and cider.
In Austria, Christmas begins with the feast of St Nicholas or Heiliger Nikolaus on 6th of December, when the saint and the devil ask the children about their good and bad deeds. Good children get sweets, toys, apples and nuts. Gifts under the tree are opened only after the dinner on Christmas Eve. A traditional Austrian Christmas dinner includes baked carp.
Throughout the countryside brass musical instruments play chorale music while carol singers go from door to door carrying blazing torches and a manger. The Silent Night Chapel is in the village of Oberndorf. It marks the place where the beloved Christmas carol "Silent Night" was heard for the first time, on Christmas Eve 1818. From a small parish church, this simple Christmas carol engaged the world. Today this carol has been translated into about 300 languages and dialects around the world.
Christmas trees are put up on 24th of December and are lit only when the Christ Child comes and brings presents for the children. Tinkling bells announce his arrival and He is greeted into the special tree where Christmas tree is kept with all the decorations using ornaments and candies and candles that are just lit and the entire family sings Christmas carols.
Santa is ringing a bell, which signals the Christmas mass is about to begin. Religion of Austria is largely Roman Catholic, so bells are heard throughout the countryside, resonating from every church.
The guitar that is strapped to his back is reflective of the sound of music which is prevalent, not only during Christmastime, but throughout the year. The guitar is a simple instrument that has been taught to many Austrian youth.
The skis are for the many mountain slopes in Austria. The Alps cover seventy percent of the land of Austria, so the sport of snow skiing has always been very popular.
The name Australia, the sixth largest country in the world, is derived from the Latin australis, meaning "southern" as it lies in the southern hemisphere. It's inhabitants date back to over 45000 years and fill the land with a rich culture, history of "dream time" and over 250 indiginous languages.. Discovered by the Dutch in 1706 and later claimed by Britain , Australia's population has grown to 22 million and functions as a liberal democracy. Australia is the world's flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils; desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land although its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate and is home to most of the country's population.
Australia is home to a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala bear, and wombat, and birds such as the emu and the kookaburra. Colorful parrots and cockatoos abound in the land of paradise.
St Nicholas visits for the first time each year on the December 4th, so he can find out which children have been good and which children have been bad. If a child is good he returns on December 6th with the presents, candy and toys, and twigs are left for those who are bad. He carries a freshly cut tree, which is decorated and a central part of the holiday celebration in each home. Stockings are place on or near the fire-place, to be found in the morning filled with small gifts and candies. A donkey accompanies St. Nicholas this Christmas Eve, commemorating the blessed donkey that experienced the magic of the birth of the Christ Child many years ago in Bethlehem.
Papai Noel or Father Noel is the gift-bringer in Brazil, and according to legend, he lives in Greenland. Due to the summer heat, when he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing, featuring Brazilian designs. No snow in Brazil, so Santa wears sandals as he travels over sand to make his deliveries. He visits beaches and towns along the way. His basket is filled with beach balls, palm trees and fruits. The nativity is an important part of the Brazilian celebration, so Father Noel is bringing one to a deserving family. The rooster accompanies Santa, preparing himself to crow and announce that Christmas Day has arrived.
Santa wears the familiar Stetson hat and uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - modified with sprigs of Christmas holly and fur trim. A bright red cape completes his outfit. The "Mounties" astride their horse personified the British influence for pomp and ceremony, reminiscent of England's Royal Guard. Established in 1873 to police the growing Western Provinces, the RCMP today has more than 28,000 members and is Canada's official policing body with far-reaching responsibilities. Across his chest, Santa wears a green courier bag with the national symbol of Canada - the red maple leaf. The maple leaf was first used as a national symbol in 1870 when the Prince of Wales visited Canada, but it was not until 1965 that Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the red and white "Maple Leaf Flag" as the country's official national flag. Ice Hockey is synonymous with Canada, and Santa holds a hockey stick with a pair of ice skates over his arm. It is said that Canadian children learn to skate as they learn to walk. Vast forests and waterways abound in Canada, and Santa holds a sculpture of a Moose and a whitewater canoe with paddles, destined for a budding outdoorsman.
St. Nicholas is called Svaty Mikalas and is believed to climb to earth down from heaven on a golden rope along with his companions: an angel and a devil. St Nicholas visits, and brings good children gifts along with the angel, and for those children who are bad, the devil is said to come with switches. St. Nicholas carries a basket filled with strudl and traditional Czech pastries, which are enjoyed throughout the season. Sweets are a favorite! Vánočka, Christmas bread, is in his bag. This bread has a few magical powers. Feeding a piece of vánočka to the cows on Christmas Eve will ensure that there will be lots of milk all year, putting a few vánočka crumbs in front of the bee hive will make sure that the bees will produce enough honey during the following year, and throwing a piece of vánočka into the well will ensure good quality of the water.
Christmas in Danish is called Jul, an old Nordic word for "feast", and it is the biggest holiday in Denmark with traditions that go back centuries. Festivities are centered around the family. Families gather around illuminated Christmas trees and sing carols and hymns. In the month of Advent, guests are invited on every Sunday to light the candles on the Advent crown. Special cup cakes are prepared and cooked over the fire in a special pan and dusted with icing sugar. People keep seeds in dishes outdoors for wild birds.
Sweets are made at home prior to the holiday, especially chocolates. Marzipan.
Nuts, nougat, dried fruit, almond, liquors like brandy, rum are typical ingredients for Marzipan. The traditional Christmas Eve dinner starts with cinnamon-laced rice pudding called Grod with an almond in it. The person, who finds the almond, gets a prize. This custom is followed by prune-stuffed roast goose, red cabbage and browned potatoes dishes with pastries and cakes as desserts.
A St. Lucia doll is in Santa’s pocket. According to the Catholic Church Lucia is the saint of light. Legend has it that Lucia, in order to keep her hands free, wore a wreath with candles on her head so that she could feed the poor Christians, which was illegal at the time. She would visit the catacombs and bring hope to the poor.
Santa also carries another doll, which represents the Nisse. Christmastime is when a mischievous elf called Nisse play pranks on people. He lives in the lofts of old farmhouses and wears gray woolen clothes, red bonnet and stockings and white clogs. Kind and helpful at heart, he generally helps people on the farms and is good with children but plays jokes on people during holiday season. On Christmas Eve, families leave a bowl of rice pudding or porridge for him so that he is friendly to them and keeps his jokes within limits.
The German Santa is bringing a freshly cut tree to a well deserved home. Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing. Lebkuchen, or Pfefferkuchen, is a traditional German product baked for Christmas which hangs from santa’s belt. This sweet treat resembles soft gingerbread. Similar cookies have a history that extends back to the Egyptians, but the style of the traditional Lebkuchen is believed to have been invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. Santa is relying on his hand carved walking stick. His favorite wood carver in Oberammergau makes Santa a new walking stick each year. Oberammergau is nestled at the foothills of the Alps, one of the most picturesque towns in Bavaria.
This spunky, twinkling handsome man is the Irish Santa! As a very generous soul, he spreads special Christmas joy through the land of lush vegetation, known as the "Emerald Isle". His purse is filled with tradionally wrapped gifts and never seems to empty itself out no matter how many presents he delivers. A book of Irish poems and proverbs is tucked under his arm and a bone and burl pipe swirls its inviting aroma around him, alerting people of his arrival. A warm but cozy tweed coat and hat keep him warm as does the long knit scarf which wraps around his neck. Once is considered especially lucky to have encountered the Irish Santa.
In Ireland, Santa is known as Father Christmas. The legend of Father Christmas dates back to the 1600s, portrayed in a long green fur-lined robe. Green is the color associated with Ireland, known as the 'emerald isle.' The Irish Father Christmas has a longer white beard, typifying the joyous spirit of Christmas he spreads as he travels the countryside. Music and dance are Irish traditions, and Father Christmas carries a violin - or fiddle - the primary instrument in traditional ballads and reels. In his hand is an Irish songbook. His brass-buckled shoes and breeches are essential for dancing the age-old clogging and jigs that remain popular today. Wearing elaborate dancing costumes that reflect the past culture of Ireland, dancers of all ages participate in competitions known as a Feis (feesh) - long a part of rural Irish life. Beside Father Christmas is a basket containing dolls, books, games and other presents for children. Boys and girls hang a sack or pillowcase at the foot of their beds in hopes that Father Christmas will come in the night and fill it with toys and sweets.
The Norwegian Santa is being lead through the dark, winter night by his lantern, which symbolizes the Light of Christ. The use of candles and luminaries are popular during the holiday. Santa Claus in Norway is called “Julenissen” and looks very much like the Santas found elsewhere in the world. However, there exists another character whose name ends with “nisse” in the Norwegian folklore, a peculiar figure named the “Fjřsnisse”. For a long time, when most Norwegians were farmers, this “Nisse” was believed to be a secret helper in the barn. If the farm family was kind to him and left him a bowl of porridge every Christmas eve, he would be nice to them and be very helpful during the next year. If they didn’t, they could expect accidents, sick animals and mysterious noises. Santa is wearing snow shoes as he treks across the soft, fluffy snow covered parts of Norway. Snowshoes allowed him to move around easier while he searched for homes with good boys and girls sleeping and dreaming.
A child of Russia knows Father Christmas to be Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas. Since Russian is known for its very cold temperatures and abundance of snow, this Farther Christmas figure is dressed in white. Santa is holding a bundle of hay, representing the farmers who spread hay on the floors and tables to encourage horses to feed to grow in the coming year. Some rural Russians also make clucking noises to encourage their hens to lay eggs. He also carries a bear which represents the world renowned Russian circus that have been a treat for young and old alike throughout the world. Since the reign of Catherine the Great, the circus has played an important role in the rich cultural traditions of Russia. In Russia, the circus is regarded as an art form on par with the ballet or opera, a showcase for highly skilled and creative artists.
In Russia the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the Festival of Winter yet there are many traditions that are still kept. The official Christmas and holiday season in Russia lasts from 31st of December to the 10th of January. The Russian Christmas greeting is 'S Rozhdestvom!'. Some people fast on Christmas Eve, until the first star has appeared in the sky. People then eat 'sochivo', a dish made from wheat or rice with honey and fruit. Other special Christmas food includes cakes, pies and 'meat dumplings'. Later. hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees or Yelka, flowers and colored lights.
Clad in his favorite tartan and kilt, this stately Scotsman will proudly attend Christmas festivities, delivering gifts. Santa’s tartan, kilt represents the oldest and most recognizable cultural tradition of the Highland Scots. Today, many of the more familiar tartans are in fact creations of Scottish and English tailors during the reign of Queen Victoria. Despite this, it has generally been accepted that the basic concepts of the tartan and the wearing of the kilt do indeed have their origin in the history of the early Scottish and Irish clans, or families. The kilt has now become the standard dress for all "Highlanders". Santa’s bag is filled with all kinds of Scottish favorites that any wee lad or lass would love. Santa is sure to deliver dolls dressed in tartan plaid, drum and horn for making Christmas noises, a wooly sheep pull toy and a Scottish doll cottage.
Our Scottish Santa, also known as Father Christmas, wears the traditional tartan kilt in red and green plaid, topped with a matching cape and hat. Argyle hose and brass buckled shoes complete his outfit. Father Christmas holds a bagpipe, regarded as one of the most difficult musical instruments to play. The "bag" is made of a sheep's stomach and is filled with air that is expelled, much like a bellows, as the bagpipe is played. The bagpipe dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 1800s, the popularity of the unique instrument gained favor and famous military regiments comprised of Scotsmen proved to be heroic in battle. In his other hand, Father Christmas carries a staff, and on his back is a little Christmas tree decorated with red bows. At his feet is a beautiful little West Highland White Terrier, one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland - Scottish Terrier, Cairn Terrier (Queen Elizabeth II owns several), Skye Terrier and Dandie Dinmont. Though small in stature, they are a rugged breed and make excellent watchdogs.
Papa Noel, as Santa is called in Spain, is dressed in his brightly colored yellow bolero jacket trimmed in a beautiful gold. With the deep red cape the pair is a perfect reflection of the colors found in the national flag of Spain. Santa is wearing the outfit of a Matador, from ruffled shirt to riding boots. His bolero is richly trimmed, as are his leather breeches and flowing cape. The Matador is highly regarded in Spain, where the bullfight is an important part of the nation's culture. In his hand, he lovingly holds his prized Nativity. The Christmas season in Spain is a very pious one. The gift bringers of the Spanish Christmas are the Three Wise Men or Los Tres Reyes Magos. This happens on Three Kings Day, January 6th, also observed in much of the world as 12th Night or Epiphany - the day it is believed the Wise Men arrived at the stable to find the Christ Child.
St Nicholas is called Samiclaus in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. He appears not on Christmas Eve or Day, but on December 6, when children awake to find the shoe or boot they put out the night before filled with mandarin oranges, nuts and cookies. Samiclaus is carrying the traditional tree. The evening of December 24 is a family celebration in Switzerland. This is the evening on which children get to see the decorated and lit tree in its entire splendor for the first time, complete with wrapped gifts underneath. A long thick coat keeps Samiclaus warm through the heavy snow as he visits the many villages between mountain valleys.
Zimbabwe Father Christmas wears the typical red suit, but it’s made of light material because Christmas, “Kisimusi”, is celebrated in Zimbabwe in the summer. Sandals adorn Santa’s feet, reminding him of hot, yet beautiful landscape of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a gorgeous country and boasts the majestic Victoria Falls and its magnificent wildlife preserves. Animals in his bag represent these wild animals. A favorite activity at Christmas time is to get a ride in Father Christmas’s donkey-pulled cart. Balloons, ribbons and tied cans decorate the cart and make for merry clatter. Children receive juice and candy from Father Christmas. Cotton is also represented in his bag, being a big part of Zimbabwe’s commerce.