Showing posts with label Santa Claus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Claus. Show all posts

Dec 1, 2017


In Austria, 'Krampus night' is December 5, or St. Nicholas eve. One of the ways to witness the spectacle is to attend a  Krampuslauf or 'Krampus run'. You remember Krampus, according to folklore he is the devilish sidekick of St. Nicholas, and his duties include throwing naughty children into a sack or basket, beating them with a whip, and carrying them off into the night.

One of the largest events on Krampus night is held in Klagenfurt am Worthersee, near the Austrian-Slovenian border and takes place along almost a mile through the city center. It begins with a troupe of young men who strap 45-pound bells around their waists. They are called called Krampusglocken or Balkenglocke, the instruments make a thunderous boom as the men march together, smacking the bells with their thighs. Most of the hundreds of performers wear elaborate wooden masks and fur costumes, some use painted masks with LED lights and other modern accessories.
A great way to have a fun parade and usher in the holiday season.

Incidentally, the day after is St. Nicholas day, when he comes to leave coins or candies in good children's shoes. Growing up, someone would toss little bags of candy on our porch. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive in part from Saint Nicholas and in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint's name in that language.

Dec 24, 2016

What's in a Name, Santa Claus

In the United States and Canada, his name is Santa Claus.
In China, he is called Shengdan Laoren.
In England, his name is Father Christmas.
In France, he is known as Pere Noel.
In Germany, children get presents from Christindl, the Christ Child.
Customs of the Christmas Season in Spanish speaking countries have many similarities and many variations. All of Latin America and Spain are predominantly Catholic. For many of these countries Baby Jesus, el Niño Jesus, brings gifts for children. In Colombia, and parts of Mexico, the gift bearer is el Niño Jesus, “the infant Jesus.” In Brazil and Peru, he is called Papai Noel.
In Puerto Rico, children receive gifts from the Three Kings on January 6, also called the celebration of Epiphany, or Three Kings' Day. Each child puts grass under their bed for the camels. In the morning the grass is replaced with gifts. Also, Puerto Rico  has its major gift giving on December 25, with the Christmas Tree and Santa Claus. Epiphany remains a part of the holiday season and is a day off from school.

In Italy Babbo Natale, which means Father Christmas, is Santa. Children put a pair of their shoes by the door on the day before Epiphany and the following morning they find them filled with small gifts and candy. Italy, Spain, Portugal are also mostly Catholic. December 25 is a day of more religious observance, remembering the birth of Christ. The Epiphany, called Little Christmas, is the day for gift giving. However, Babbo Natale does come on Christmas Eve in some parts of Italy.
In Spain children leave their shoes under the Christmas tree the night of January 5th and presents from the Three Kings (Los Reyes Magos) appear the next morning. Santa Claus is called Papa Noel and some children receive presents both days on December 24th from Papa Noel and on January 6th from the Three Kings.
In Morocco he is known as Black Peter.
In Japan, Santa Claus is called Santa Claus or just “Santa”. Children often call him “Santa no ojisan”, which means “Uncle Santa”.
In Sweden Jultomten visits the evening before Christmas day, pulling a big bag of julklappar (Christmas presents) in the deep snow.
Pã Norsk (in Norwegian) Julenissen arrives on the evening of December 24.
In the Netherlands, he is called Kerstman.
In Finland, he is called Joulupukki.
Sinter Klaas in Dutch, is much thinner than the American Santa Claus. He rides a white horse and gets help from numerous Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) handing out gifts and candy. He arrives the first Saturday in November by boat. In the evenings, Dutch Children sing songs in front of the fire place and leave their shoe with a present, such as a drawing for Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet or a Carrot for Amerigo Sinterklaas' horse. In the mornings they find their shoe filled with candy and small presents. On the fifth of December Dutch households have a “Pakjesavond” (Presents night) and exchange presents.

In Russia, he is called Grandfather Frost. He is also called Kris Kringle - which comes from the German term 'the Christ Child'.

Dec 27, 2014

Santa Claus in Canada

Santa Claus has his own postcode in Canada: HOH OHO.

Origin of Santa Claus

 It is believed that Santa Claus is actually an alteration of this same Saint Nicholas, Santa for Saint and Claus for Nicholas. The original Santa Claus (and many current European) outfits resemble a Bishop's clothing, hat, and staff. The modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, whose name is a dialectal pronunciation of Saint Nicholas.

The 19th century was a time of cultural transition and many wanted to domesticate the Christmas holiday. Through the first half of the 19th century, Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, and others continued to regard December 25th as a day without religious significance.

In 1809, Washington Irving published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker's History of New York, with numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This was not the saintly bishop, rather an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. Irving's work was regarded as the "First notable work of imagination in the New World."

In 1810, the New York Historical Society commissioned artist Alexander Anderson to create the first American image of Nicholas for St. Nicholas Day. Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children's treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace.

During 1821, the first lithographed book in America, the Children's Friend described how "Sante (sic) Claus" arrived from the North in a sleigh with a flying reindeer. The anonymous poem and illustrations proved pivotal in shifting imagery away from a saintly bishop. Sante Claus rewarded good behavior and punished bad. Gifts were safe toys, "pretty doll . . . peg-top, or a ball; no crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets to blow their eyes up, or their pockets. No drums to stun their Mother's ear, nor swords to make their sisters fear; but pretty books to store their mind with knowledge of each various kind." The sleigh had a bookshelf for the "pretty books." The book also marked Sante Claus' first appearance on Christmas Eve, rather than December 6th. The book may have actually been penned a few years earlier according to some accounts.

In 1823, a poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was penned. It is now better known as "The Night Before Christmas."

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. . . .

This is how St. Nicholas was transformed into Santa Claus.

Dec 23, 2011

Old Saint Nicholas

On this day in 1823 in the Troy NY Sentinel published the poem we know as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore. It was published anonymously under the newspaper editor’s title, Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. Moore wrote it a year earlier and read it to his children, who saved it.

He was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature and never sought to do any more than read the story to his children that one time. Clement referred to the poem "a mere trifle." Some have questioned whether he was the author, but proof of another writer has been elusive.

It is known that Donner and Blitzen were originally from ''Dunder'' and ''Blixem'' Dutch for thunder and lightning. Rudolph didn't come along until 1939, but that's another story on my blog from December 17, 2010.

Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmas visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the world. He was the first to describe eight tiny reindeer. Oh, and it ended with 'Happy Christmas to all'.

Dec 14, 2010

Saint Nikolas and Santa Claus

Though they have similar outfits, Nikolaus is not to be confused with Santa Claus, who Germans call the Weihnachtsmann, or Father Christmas. They are two different people. In fact, many religious families try to focus more on Nikolaus earlier in December to insure that Christmas is actually about Jesus’ birth, and not presents from an Americanized and commercialized Santa.

Each year on December 6, Germans remember the death of Nikolas of Myra (now part of modern Turkey), who died on that day in 346. He was a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly, and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students. Known as Nikolas the Wonderworker for his miracles, he is also identified with Santa Claus. Beliefs and traditions about Nikolaus were probably combined with German mythology, particularly regarding stories about the bearded pagan god Odin, who also had a beard and a bag to capture naughty children.

The custom of leaving shoes out began because the historical St. Nicholas had a reputation for leaving secret gifts, such as coins, in people’s shoes overnight. Kids traditionally put out their boots, though shoes or stockings will suffice for those without boots. Dirty boots are unacceptable. Children polish their boots to show they’ve been good. They usually place just one boot outside their door so they don’t appear too greedy.