Santa Question

A friend was wearing a wonderfully awesome tacky Christmas sweater that has Santa in his sleigh with what looks like a moose pulling them. On the back of it all is a flag pole with an American flag proudly waving.

Naturally, this really cracked us all up.

Does every country think that Santa is their own?

Well, Canada does claim the North Pole to be part of it’s territory, and has assigned it the postal code H0H 0H0. In which case Santa would be a citizen or resident of Canada (presumably legal), and be benefiting from the government postal service.

Spain definitely doesn’t, at least people over age 40, as “the fat foreigner” is a recent import. When I was a kid, we’d spend Christmas at the maternals and get presents from Baby Jesus on Christmas Day; then on the Epiphany we’d get them on the paternal side from the Magi. Back then that was unusual, now it’s become a lot more normal, but many families refuse to have Santa be the one that brings presents on Christmas Day: it’s Olentzero, el Tió, the Baby Jesus, the Shepherds… and some of those have political as well as religious connotations, so basically people go for Santa if they’re the kind of person who don’t vote and who only set foot in a church for weddings and funerals.

I just wiki-ed Olentzero. I swear to God I had no idea that name belonged to anyone other than a poster here on the SDMB before this thread.

In Russia, children don’t get gifts from Santa Claus on Christmas; rather, their gifts come on New Year’s from Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) and his sexy lady assistant granddaughter, the Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). While I believe he used to live somewhere in Finland, now he is an official resident of Veliky Ustyug, which is here. No, I don’t know why that’s where he lives.

Also, instead of giving gifts to children, he used to lurk around and steal them away in his big sack.

I may need to be educated on this. I was under the impression that Santa Claus was American. Other countries may have originally used a similar concept (that Santa was probably derived from), but it was a different guy by a different name. The commonly used Father Christmas is a talk, lanky fellow with a stark visage, for example.

Traditionally, In the Netherlands, we have no Santa, although nearly 50% of the population now exchange gifts for Christmas. Most of us, though, celebrate Sint Nicolaas, or Sinterklaas for short, on the 5th of December, the birthday of St. Nicholas. Sinterklaas is a very, very old bishop (about 1500 years old) living in Spain (the original St. Nicholas was a bishop* in Turkish Myra, which is somehow inexplicably linked with Spain, maybe because of the Mores). Every year, he comes over to the Netherlands on a fleet of steam boats (containing the presents, of course), landing in a different city every year, which is a nationally televised event.

Sinterklaas is accompanied by an army of black men, all of whose names are Piet (roughly pronounced Pete), who are his friends, not his servants (:rolleyes:)** Having arrived, Sinterklaas mounts his white horse Amerigo, and proceeds to ride all across the roofs of the Netherlands, tossing gifts down the chimney (he sends the Pieten down, which is why they’re black, or so some have it), leaving them in the shoes that the kids have left by the fireplace, with a drawing in it and some straw or a carrot for the horse. If the children are bad, Sinterklaas will leave a little bag of salt; in really bad cases, he’ll take the kids away with him back to Spain - why this is a punishment I never understood. The kids also sing a variety of Sinterklaas songs, as Sinterklaas sends the Pieten into the houses to bang loudly on the doors and toss a whole lot of candy from a big hemp bag all across the living room floor. Hence the song ‘hoor wie klopt daar, kinderen’ (hear who knocks there, children).

  • in recent years, the Catholic content has become problematic and in some cases the miter that the bishop wears has the cross removed from it to make it look less Christian so as not to offend anyone, especially Muslim kids celebrating.
    ** much as we like to ignore it, Black Pete (zwarte Piet) is obviously a blatantly racist symbol: the white man has a whole number of ‘servants’ - as evinced by the song ‘Sinterklaasje, kom maar binnen met je knecht’ - ‘Sinterklaas, do enter with your servant’ - which serve as some sort of boogie man, taking bad kids away to some evil faraway land in a hemp bag (the one that only so recently contained gifts and candy for the good kids.
    Recently an artists collective did a manifestation to ridicule this, and they were blasted by some on the right for undermining Dutch tradition in the face of islamisation and what have you. Still, not much resistance to the phenomenon exists that I am aware of, even among the black community in the Netherlands, so I’m in favor of letting it be, letting it serve as a reminder of how racist we used to be and how the slave trade made us rich - but if enough people start objecting we have to do something about it.

I seem to have made it my Christmas Goal for this year to out the origin of his name to the board. Funny thing is, he’s mentioned it in the “where did you get your username” threads.

Oh, and the traditional anti-gift is coal, either the real kind or dyed-black lumps of sugar.

For those interested: here’s a linkto some footage of this year’s landing of Sinterklaas, including various interviews with a number of Black Petes as well as Sinterklaas himself, and as always the breath taking suspense as the steamboat is late, got lost, there’s a bridge in the way, the horse is sea sick, etc., as a result of which THERE MIGHT NOT BE SINTERKLAAS THIS YEAR!

That’s it - I am returning to the writing I am supposed to be doing. I’ve written more about Sinterklaas than I have on the paper that I need to be handing in.

Santa Claus is not US American (nitpicking there - he would technically be North American) - he’s Canadian. Jeeze, if we have to put up with six months of -30ºC temperatures and having all of our winter parties snowed out, we get Santa Claus. We’ve earned it.

Here in Hungary, Szent Mikulás (Saint Nicholas) puts treats in children’s newly-cleaned shoes for December 6. The chocolate Szent Mikuláses in the stores look suspiciously like Santa (white beard, red suit). But on December 24 (Christmas Eve), the Baby Jesus puts gifts under the Christmas tree, which traditionally are not decorated until Dec. 24, because that’s when the angels come and decorate them.

So I don’t think Hungarians think they “own” Santa, but are probably more like adopting his “look” from the west and applying it to St. Mikulás. Halloween is becoming more popular, too.

If Santa were truly Canadian, he would bring bacon and beer for Christmas.

In Germany, Sankt Nikolaus ( or Wiehnachtsmann…Christmasman) goes around with Ruprecht, who carries a switch to beat the bad children. Germans!

St. Nicholas goes from house to house visiting the children and doing shots with each family. After a few houses, as one can imagine, Santa is hammered after a while.

Santa adopts the nationality of whatever country he is servicing at the moment.
Alternately, Santa is a citizen of the world.

Christmas breakfast at my place involves bacon and eggs. The beer waits until Christmas supper (or was consumed on Christmas Eve!)

Christmas breakfast was always bacon and eggs in our house, too! I think we have proven conclusively that Santa Claus is indeed Canadian.

Hmmmmm. Logic here at the Dope. I’m sorry, I cannot handle it. Please report to the head office for your beating, Sigmagirl

In Denmark, Santa is well-known to live in Greenland. Which just happens to be owned by…Denmark. So yes, I would say they do. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here you can see the opening song to an old Danish Christmas series, where elves go up to Greenland to save Christmas after Santa (julemanden, that is, the Yule Man) goes missing. Note their Danish-themed hot air balloon halfway through the clip!