Destinations

Here’s what Santa looks like across the world

Are you heading overseas for Christmas? We’ve got just the thing.

Because thanks to language learning app Babbel, you can check out what Santa looks like in other countries! From the bearded man we know to an Italian witch, check out santas from the other side of the world.

FRANCE

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Père Noël (pairno-wel) – one of the more traditional names for Santa – delivers his presents on December 6th which is known as the Feast of the Kings. The French have a cake called the galette des Roisthatis divided so that each guest gets a slice, as well as leaving an extra piece for any unexpected guest.

GERMANY

Christmas background. Advent calendar and Santa's shoe with gifts on rustic wooden background

The Germans celebrate with der Weihnachtsmann (vai-nahckts-mahn), and use an advent calendar (invented by German Lutherans in the 19th century) to count down the days left before Christmas Day. Advent calendars have come a long way since then, with makeup, jewellery, beer and even cheese now popular versions to help count the days.

ITALY

Rome, Italy - December 21, 2013: Christmas in Piazza Navona, in Rome. Handicrafts figuring befana sold by the street vendor shops.

While Santa is normally depicted as a jolly, good natured, kind person in many countries, this is not so in Italy. Befana (bee-far-na) is a witch who leaves coal for the naughty children and lollies for the well behaved. Befana is known to fly down chimneys or enter by shimmying through keyholes. Personally, we wouldn’t want to see either!

SWEDEN

Beautiful snowy winter scenery of Christmas holiday fair at the Big Square (Stortorget) in the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm, Sweden

Santa is called Jultomten (jool-tom-tun), normally shortened to Tomten in Sweden. Christmas is celebrated in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and this is when Tomten makes an appearance too. In Sweden, smorgasbords contain a wide-ranging spread of food and are eaten throughout the year. At Christmas, a typical smorgasbord contains the traditional ham alongside pork sausages, anchovy dip, herring salad and rye bread.

ICELAND

Skolavordustigur street in the center of Reykjavik at dusk in the winter, Iceland. In the background church of Hallgrimur

Icelanders go all out for Christmas with their festive celebrations lasting 26 days! Beginning on December 11th when Yule Ladsor jólasveinarnir (yola-sveen-ah-nish) arrive and continues through to January 6th. The Yule Lads are a group of 13 mischievous tricksters accompanied by the evil Christmas Cat.

GREECE

"Big christmas tree on Syntagma Square, in Athens, Greece. On the background is the Parliament Building."

In Greece, Santa is called Ágios Vasílis (ah-gee-os bah-see-lees), and is celebrated for the full 12 days of Christmas beginning on Christmas Day and ending on January 6th, which is known as the Feast of Epiphany. Ágios Vasílisdelivers small gifts to children on January 1st. In order to keep evil spirits away, Greeksensure fires are lit in their homes for the12 day period, stopping any unwanted spirits from entering through their chimneys.

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