New map reveals how people refer to ‘Santa Claus’ in different countries around the world

    Santa claus standing on an airport apron and leaning on suitcases
    Edited by Travel Weekly

      Whether you call him Santa Claus or St. Nick, the jolly old man who delivers Christmas presents is one of the most famous figures in the world.

      But how do different countries talk about this iconic Christmas character?

      The language experts at Preply have released a new map visualising the many different names of Santa around the globe, revealing some interesting local legends and traditions.


      There are many names to identify one of the most characteristic characters of this period, some even original, such as the Welsh “Chimney Sweep John” (Siôn Corn).

      The father figure

      Father Christmas is the most traditional name used in English for the character and is the most commonly used name in Australia, and many languages and countries around the world have adopted the same moniker to refer to him.

      Translations of ‘Father Christmas’ around the world include:

      Hana Kōkō (Māori – New Zealand)
      Père Noël (French – France, Cameroon, Morocco)
      Papá Noel (Spanish – Spain & much of South America)
      Pai Natal (Portuguese – Portugal)
      Papai Noel (Portuguese – Brazil)
      Baba Noel (Arabic – Iraq)
      Bābā Noel (Persian – Iran)
      Noel Baba (Turkish)

      Grandpa Frost

      Another popular name is Grandpa / Grandfather Frost. This name originates from a legendary figure of Slavic mythology and is common in Southeastern Europe, used by countries like Croatia (Đed Mraz), Macedonia and Russia (Дед Мороз – Ded Moroz), Serbia (Деда Мраз – Deda Mraz) and Belarus (Дзед Мароз – Dzied Maroz).

      St. Nicholas and Santa Claus

      Saint Nicholas was a patron saint who became known for his acts of charity and generous gift-giving habit, and is said to be the influence for the modern day character of Santa Claus. The Dutch ‘Sinterklaas’ is based on St. Nicholas, and is said to be the origin of the name ‘Santa Claus’.

      Now, many countries around the world use Santa Claus – or their own variant of this name – to describe the iconic Christmas figure.

      • El Salvador – Santa
      • Cuba – Santa Cló
      • Puerto Rico, Venezuela – Santa Clós
      • Philippines – Santa Klaus
      • Mexico – Santo Clós
      • Thailand – ซานตาคลอส (Sāntākhlxs̄)
      • Japan – サンタクロース (Santakurōsu)
      • South Korea – 산타 할아버지 (Santa hal-abeoji, lit. ‘grandfather Santa’)

      Yule Goats and Pixies: Northern Europe

      In Finland, the figure of Santa Claus is called joulupukki. This literally translates to ‘Yule goat’ and is based on old pagan traditions, but nowadays the term is used when discussing the modern day Santa Claus.

      Norway and Sweden also have their own names for Santa based on Nordic folklore. The Norwegian name Julenissen and Swedish name Jultomte literally mean ‘yule pixie’ or ‘yule gnome’, but are again used nowadays to talk about the figure of Santa.

      Iceland’s thirteen Yule Lads

      The majority of countries have only one Santa Claus who brings presents to children at Christmas, but Iceland has thirteen: the Jólasveinar, or ‘Yule Lads’. The Jólasveinar are said to visit children one at a time on the thirteen nights leading up to Christmas Day, leaving a treat for those who are well-behaved.

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