Although there are many differences among the cultures of the world, Santa Claus legends are found in some form in every part of the world. While children all across the world receive gifts during December, these gifts may be delivered by vastly different characters. Although Americas Santa Claus is gaining popularity around the world, many global cultures still celebrate their own versions of the holiday gift giver.
- Father Christmas – part of the legends of several countries, has been one of the primary influences in the history of Santa Claus. Although the modern Father Christmas is nearly identical to Santa Claus, in the 1600s, he wore a green robe and spread the joy of the season instead of giving gifts. Over time, he has merged with Sinterklaas as a gift bringer who rides a reindeer-pulled sleigh and climbs down chimneys.
- Sinterklaas – the Dutch version of Santa Claus legends and closely resembles our Santa Claus. Sinterklaas wears a red suit and has a flowing white beard, but visits the Netherlands in late November. Sinterklaas doesnt work with elves, but is assisted by a little boy named Black Peter. Sinterklaas delivers gifts December 5 and leaves bags of salt or coal for naughty boys and girls.
- Ded Moroz – in the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe, Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost has a white beard and red suit, and drives a horse drawn sled called a troika. Ded Moroz was once evil and now gives children gifts to make up for his past misdeeds. He arrives on New Years Eve or Day with his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden, to place gifts under the tree.
- Krampus – in the Alpine region, Santa Claus is much the same as he is in America. The big difference is that he travels with the Krampus, a horrifying monster who beats and punishes bad children. Although the Krampus has been largely eliminated by the church, he still plays a minor part in the holiday traditions of Austria and Bavaria
- Le Befana – part of Italys history of Santa Claus. Le Befana is a witch who provided food and shelter to the three wise men during their journey. She is a kindly figure who brings gifts to children and sweeps the floor around the chimney before she leaves. Le Befana doesnt like to be seen and will use her broomstick to hit any child who sees her.
- Pere Noel – the French version of the Santa Claus legend and is one of the worlds most popular Santa Claus Legends. Pere Noel rides a donkey named Gui, or Mistletoe, and places candy and small gifts in shoes by the fireplace on December 5.
- Yulemen – in Iceland, the Yulemen have taken Santa Clauss place in celebrations. These 13 little people are mischievous and love to play tricks on people. These playful creatures leave gifts in childrens shoes on the thirteen nights before Christmas Eve. They travel with the Yuletide Cat, who eats bad children.