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Santa Clauses All over the World

You better watch out, you better not cry… you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus-slash-Father Christmas-slash-Pere Noel is coming to town!

Santa Claus, with his bright red suit and bulging stomach, is virtually known all over the world as the Christmas saint who gives out presents to nice kids. But in some parts of the globe, Santa Claus is known by other names, different costumes, and even a different gender.

Also known as St. Nicholas, the American version Santa Claus has eight flying reindeer. The most famous is red-nosed Rudolph, who’s been immortalised in the popular Christmas song. St. Nick travels from the North Pole to North America on Christmas Eve, enters houses through their chimneys, and fills socks with presents for kids to open on Christmas Day.

British' Father Christmas looks exactly like his renowned US counterpart—a fat and jolly man with a white beard and moustache. He, too, lives in the North Pole and makes toys for kids with the help of elves. Father Christmas used to don a green suit, but he’s swapped that old one for a bright red outfit.

Pere Noel, meanwhile, enjoys the Christmas limelight in France. Unlike Santa Claus and Father Christmas, Pere Noel parades in a long, hooded robe with white, furry edges. He carries presents for kind kids in a hotte (basket) on his back. Good tots receive two gifts from Pere Noel—one on December 6 (St. Nicholas Eve) and one on December 24 (Christmas Eve). Père Fouettard, Pere Noel’s negative counterpart, travels with him to spank the naughty kids. Children anticipate Pere Noel’s arrival by placing their shoes before the fireplace or the Christmas tree in which they’ll receive gifts.

Latvia’s Santa Claus is probably the busiest Santa during the holiday season. Also known as Ziemmassve'tku veci'tis or “Big Zimmer,” this Santa works like a mule, giving out gifts on each of the 12 days of Christmas.

Girl power rules in Italy, Sweden, and other Scandinavian countries come Christmastime. La Befana, Italy’s witch counterpart of Santa Claus, and St. Lucy brighten up the holidays with gifts and festivities.

Here are other Santa Clauses all over the world:

  • China: Shengdan Laoren
  • Finland: Joulupukki
  • Germany: Christindl (the Christ Child) or Kris Kringle
  • Russia: Grandfather Frost
  • Brazil: Papai Noel, who models breathable silks during Christmas (What can he do? Christmas hits Brazil during summer).

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