List of Christmas and winter gift-bringers

Christmas gift-bringers in Europe

This is a list of Christmas and winter gift-bringer figures from around the world.

The history of mythical or folkloric gift-bringing figures who appear in winter, often at or around the Christmas period, is complex, and in many countries the gift-bringer – and the gift-bringer's date of arrival – has changed over time as native customs have been influenced by those in other countries. While many though not all gift-bringers originated as religious figures, gift-bringing is often now a non-religious custom and secular figures exist in many countries that have little or no tradition of celebrating Christmas as a religious festival. Some figures are entirely local, and some have been deliberately and more recently invented.

The main originating strands – all of which have their roots in Europe – are

  • the overlapping winter-based and religious Old Man traditions (St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Basil, Grandfather Frost),
  • the Christ Child traditions promoted by Martin Luther[1] (Christkind, Baby Jesus, Child God), and
  • the Three Kings traditions.

Not all gift-bringers were or are specifically focused on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day: other common customs are 6 December (St Nicholas), 1 January, New Year (St Basil, or secular), and 6 January, Epiphany (Three Kings).

The international popularity of the figure of Santa Claus has transformed the older traditions of many countries.[2]

List of gift-bringers

Given the overlapping nature of gift-bringers throughout the world in name, attributes, date of arrival, and religious versus secular identity, this list may include winter gift-bringers that are not specifically associated with Christmas. The list should however not include mythical or folkloric characters that do not bring gifts, such as Father Time.

Nation Old man Child Other Notes
 Afghanistan Baba Chaghaloo[citation needed]
 Albania Babagjyshi, Babagjyshi i Krishtlindjeve[3] (Grandfather Christmas, Old Man of Christmas), Babadimri[4] (Grandfather Frost)
 Andorra Pare Noel (Father Christmas) Els Tres Reis (The Three Kings)
 Argentina Papá Noel[5] (Father Christmas) El Niño Dios (Child God) Reyes Magos[6] (The Three Wise Men)
 Armenia Ձմեռ Պապ (Dzmer Papik) (Winter Grandfather)[citation needed] Գաղանթ Բաբա (Gaghant Baba)[citation needed] Gaghant Baba is a more traditional figure associated with the old Armenian new year (gaghant), while Dzmer Papik is a more recent importation to the Republic of Armenia[citation needed]
 Australia Santa Claus; Bubaa Gaadha (in Gamilaraay)[7] Wangkarnal Crow (in Warmun, Western Australia)[8]
 Austria St Nikolaus or Nikolo Christkind[9] (Christ Child)
 Azerbaijan Şaxta Baba (Father Frost)[citation needed]
 Belarus Дзед Мароз (Dzied Maroz) (Grandfather Frost) Śviaty Mikałaj (Saint Nicholas) was largely replaced by Dzeid Maroz during the Soviet period.[citation needed]
 Belgium Kerstman (Christmas Man) and Sinterklaas for Dutch speakers; Père Noël[10] (Father Christmas) and St Nicholas for French speakers Le Petit Jesus[5] (Baby Jesus) for French speakers
 Bolivia Papá Noel (Father Christmas)[citation needed] El Niño Dios (Child God)[citation needed]
 Bosnia Djed Božićnjak (also known as Božić Bata or Djed Mraz) 1 January[citation needed]
 Brazil Papai Noel,[11] Bom Velhinho (Good Little Oldie).
 Bulgaria Дядо Коледа (Dyado Koleda)
 Canada Santa Claus,[12] Père Noël[12] (Father Christmas) for French speakers
 Chile El Viejito Pascuero[13] (The Easter Oldman), referring to him appearing at "Christmas Time", which in Chile is often called "Nativity's Easter" (Pascua de la Natividad) or simply "Easter" (Pascua), in contrast to "Resurrection Easter" (Pascua de Resurrección).
 China Shengdan laoren (Traditional Chinese: 聖誕老人, Simplified Chinese: 圣诞老人, Cantonese: sing daan lo jan, pinyin: shèngdànlǎorén (Old Man Christmas)[14]
 Colombia Papá Noel (Father Christmas) El Niño Dios[15] (Child God), El Niño Jesús (Child Jesus)
 Costa Rica Santa Clós (Santa Claus),[16] San Nicolás (Saint Nicholas) or his nickname Colacho. El Niño Dios[16] (Child God)
 Croatia Djed Božićnjak (Grandfather Christmas), Sveti Nikola (St Nicholas)[17] 6 December Mali Isus (Baby Jesus) In Dalmatia and Slavonia, St Lucy[17] arrives on the eve of her feast day, 13 December.
 Cyprus Άγιος Βασίλειος ο Μέγας (Saint Basil the Great) for Greek speakers[citation needed]
 Czech Republic Angel and devil accompanying Svatý Mikuláš[18] (St Nicholas) 6 December Ježíšek[19] (Baby Jesus)
 Denmark Julemanden[20] (Christmas Man)
 Dominican Republic Papá Noel (Father Christmas), Santa Clós (Santa Claus) Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Kings),[21] Vieja Belén[21] (Old Lady of Bethlehem)
 Ecuador Papá Noel (Father Christmas) El Niño Dios (Child God) The Three Kings[22]
 England Father Christmas[23] or synonymously Santa Claus[24] Before mid-Victorian times Father Christmas was a different folkloric figure representing good cheer, and did not bring gifts.[25][26]
 Estonia Jõuluvana (Old Man of Christmas)[citation needed]
 Fiji Santa Claus[citation needed]
 Finland Joulupukki (Yule Goat)[27]
 France - Le Père Noël[28] (Father Christmas)

- Saint Nicolas (Saint Nicholas) in Alsace, Lorraine, the Ardennes, Franche-Comté and the Low Countries, 6 December

- Olentzero in the Basque Country

- Saint Martin in Alsace, Franconian Lorraine and Maritime Flanders, 10 or 11 November[29][30][31]

- Le Père Janvier (Father January) in Burgundy, Nivernais and Bourbonnais, 31 December - 1 January[32]

- Le Petit Jésus (Child Jesus)[28]

- Le Christkindel (Christkind) in Alsace and Franconian Lorraine, 6 December[33]

- Tante Arie (Aunt Arie, a fairy) in the County of Montbéliard[28]

- Les Rois Mages (The Three Kings) in Roussillon

- Berchta in Alsace[34]

 Georgia თოვლის ბაბუა tovlis babua (Snow Grandfather) 1 January[citation needed]
 Germany - Martinsmann, 10 November in Protestant areas, 11 November in Catholic areas

- Nikolaus, 6 December

- Weihnachtsmann[35] (Christmas Man), 24 December in Protestant areas

Christkind[35] (Christ Child), 24 December in Catholic areas Nikolaus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, Belsnickel or other servants in some regions of Germany.
 Greece Άγιος Βασίλειος ο Μέγας[36] (Saint Basil the Great)
 Haiti Tonton Nwèl (in Haitian Creole), Père Noël (in French)[citation needed]
 Honduras Santa Claus[37] The Three Kings[37]
 Hong Kong 聖誕老人 (jyutping: sing3 daan3 lou5 jan4) (Christmas Old Man), Santa Claus, St Nicholas, Father Christmas[citation needed]
 Hungary Télapó (Father Christmas); Mikulás[38] (Nicholas) Jézuska or Kis Jézus (Child Jesus) Angels accompanying the baby Jesus[37] Mikulás is accompanied by krampusz, generally bringing virgács (rod for whipping) to children who did not behave well
 Iceland Jólasveinar[39] (Yulemen or Yule Lads) In Icelandic folk tales there are numerous Jólasveinar, which come on different dates.[39]
 India - English: Santa Claus, Father Christmas

- Hindi: सांता क्लॉज़ (saanta kloz), सैंट निकोलस (saint nikolas)

- Other languages: Several names[a]

 Indonesia Santa Claus, Sinterklas[citation needed]
 Iran Santa Claus,[40] Baba Noel[40] (Persian: بابا نوئل); Amu Nowruz (Persian: عمو نوروز, "Uncle Nowruz"), also known as Papa Nowruz (Persian: بابا نوروز – Bābā Nowruz), Spring Equinox (20 March).[citation needed]
 Ireland Santa Claus, Father Christmas,[40] Daidí na Nollag[41] for Irish speakers
 Italy Babbo Natale[42] (Father Christmas); in Trieste, St Nicholas 6 December. Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus) La Befana[42] 6 January. In Sicily,[42] Udine, Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Lodi, Mantova, Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Verona and Western Trentino, St Lucy[42] arrives on the eve of her feast day, 13 December.
 Japan Santa Kurōsu (サンタクロース) or Santa-san (サンタさん)[43] is known, but is not a traditional visitor[citation needed] On 2 Jan[44] the Seven Lucky Gods bring metaphorical treasures in their treasure ship Takarabune[45]
 Kenya Baba Krismasi; Santa Claus[citation needed]
 Korea 산타 할아버지 (Santa Harabeoji) (Grandfather Santa), 산타 클로스 (Santa Claus)
 Latvia Ziemassvētku Vecītis (Father Christmas)[46]
 Lebanon بابا نويل[47] (Baba Noel), Père Noël
 Liechtenstein Christkind (Christ Child)
 Lithuania Kalėdų Senelis[48] (Grandfather Christmas)
 Luxembourg Kleeschen[49] (St Nicholas) Christkind (Christ Child)[49]
 Madagascar Dadabe Noely (in Malagasy), Père Noël (in French)[citation needed]
 Malta Father Christmas[50] (Missier il-Milied in Maltese)
 Mexico Santa Claus El Niño Dios[51] (Child God) Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Kings[51])
 Netherlands Kerstman[52] (Christmas Man), Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) Zwarte Piet[52] (Black Peter), accompanies Sinterklaas[52]
 New Zealand Santa Claus,[53] Hana Kōkō (in Māori)[54]
 Nicaragua El Niño[53] (The Child) The Three Kings[53]
 North Macedonia Дедо Мраз (Dedo Mraz; in Macedonian), Babagjyshi (in Albanian)
 Norway Julenissen (Santa Claus) [55]
 Panama Santa Claus[56] Christ Child[56] The Three Kings[56] 6 January
 Paraguay Papá Noel (Father Christmas) El Niño Dios (Child God)
 Peru Papá Noel (Father Christmas), Santa Claus[57]
 Philippines Santa Claus,[58] Santa Klaus (in Tagalog) Los Tres Reyes Magos, Tatlóng Haring Mago (The Three Kings), 5 January[58]
 Poland Gwiazdor (Star Man or Little Star[59]), Santa Claus,[59] Święty Mikołaj (St Nicolas) 6 December[59] Dzieciątko (Christ Child) in Upper Silesia[60] Aniołek (Angel) 24 December in Kraków[60]
 Portugal Pai Natal (Father Christmas), Santa Claus[61] Menino Jesus (Christ Child[61]) – now less common
 Puerto Rico Santa Clós (Santa Claus)[62] Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Kings)
 Romania Moș Crăciun[63] (Old Man Christmas, Christmas Old Man, Grandfather Christmas, Christmas Grandfather), Moș Nicolae (St Nicholas) Jézuska or Kis Jézus (Child Jesus) (for the Hungarian minorities) Angyal (The Angel) (for the Hungarian minorities) Moș Gerilă (Grandfather Frost, Old Man Frost) during the previous Communist era[63]
 Russia - In Russian: Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz) (Grandfather Frost[64])

- In other languages: Nenets: Ямал Ири (Yamal Iri) (Grandpa of Yamal); Tatar: Кыш Бабай (Grandfather Winter); Yakut: Чысхаан (Chyskhaan) (Lord of the Cold)[citation needed]

Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden and granddaughter of Ded Moroz) and the New Year Boy[64] Before 1917, during the pre-Communist era, the gift-bringers were St Nicholas, Baboushka and Kolyáda[64]
 Scotland Santa Claus; Bodach na Nollaig (in Scottish Gaelic, lit.'Old Man of Christmas')[citation needed]
 Serbia Now Деда Мраз (Deda Mraz; Grandpa Frost); previously Божић Бата (Božić Bata; Christmas Brother)
 Slovakia Angel and Devil accompanying Svätý Mikuláš[18] (St Nicholas) 6 December Ježiško (Baby Jesus)
 Slovenia Miklavž (St Nicholas),[65] Dedek Mraz (Grandpa Frost), Božiček (Santa Claus) Jezušček (Baby Jesus) Sveti Trije kralji (The Three Kings)
 South Africa - In English: Santa Claus Father Christmas,[66] Santa Claus

- In other languages: Sinterklaas (in Afrikaans), uFata Khisimusi (in Zulu)[citation needed]

 Spain Papá Noel[67] (Father Christmas); Pare Noél in Catalonia; Olentzero in the Basque Country and Navarre;[67] Apalpador in Galicia The Three Kings 6 January;[67] Tió de Nadal in Catalonia;[68] Anjanas in Cantabria; Anguleru in Asturias; Mari Domingi, a recent female companion for Olentzero in the Basque Country and Navarre.[69]
 Sri Lanka නත්තල් සීයා (Naththal Seeya; in Sinhala), சாண்டா கிளாஸ் (Cāṇṭā kiḷās; in Tamil)[citation needed]
 Sweden Jultomten[70] (Christmas Gnome) Julbock (Christmas Goat) until the 19th century[67]
  Switzerland St Nicholas (known as Samichlaus to German-speakers and San Nicolao to Italian),[71] Père Noël[71] (Father Christmas) for French-speakers Christkind (Christ Child) in some areas,[67] Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus) in Italian-speaking areas[67] La Befana in Italian-speaking areas[67]
 Syria Papa Noël (Arabic: بابا نويل baba noel)[citation needed]
 Taiwan 聖誕老人 or 聖誕老公公 (Old Man of Christmas)[citation needed]
 Tanzania Baba Krismasi; Santa Claus[citation needed]
 Thailand ซานตาคลอส (Santa Claus)[citation needed]
 Tonga Sanitā Kolosi[citation needed]
 Turkey Noel Baba (Father Christmas) or Grandfather Gaxan (Alevi areas)[citation needed]
 Turkmenistan Aýaz Baba[citation needed]
 Ukraine Святий Миколай (Sviatyj Mykolaj) (St Nicholas), Санта Клаус (Santa Claus), sometimes Різдвяний Дід (Rizdvianyi Did) (Father Christmas) Christmas in Ukraine is celebrated on December 25. Since 2017, the date has been one of the official state holidays. Before that, Christmas was celebrated by many on January 7 by the Julian calendar. [72]
 Uruguay Papá Noel (Father Christmas) El Niño Dios (Child God) Los Reyes Magos on 6 January [73]
 United States Santa Claus;[74] sometimes Kris Kringle; ᏗᎭᏄᎧᎯ (in Cherokee); Kanakaloka (in Hawaiian);[75] Késhmish Hastiin (in Navajo)
 Uzbekistan Ayoz Bobo (Frost Grandpa), Qor Bobo (Snow Grandfather)[citation needed]
 Venezuela San Nicolás (St. Nicholas)[76] El Niño[6] (The Child) Reyes Magos[6] (The Three Wise Men)
 Vietnam Ông Già Nô-en (Old Man of Christmas)[citation needed]
 Wales Father Christmas, Santa Claus; Siôn Corn[77] in Welsh (literally Chimney John)[78]

See also

  • iconChristianity portal


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  2. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 199.
  3. ^ "Babagjysh". (in Albanian). Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  4. ^ "Baba Dimri". (in Albanian). Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  5. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 11.
  6. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 238.
  7. ^ "Minya 'Christmas' Gamilaraaydha, Yuwaalaraaya?". 10 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Is Wangkarnal the crow the spookiest Christmas tradition in Australia?". ABC News. 22 December 2021.
  9. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 13.
  10. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 20.
  11. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 29.
  12. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 35.
  13. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 42.
  14. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 43.
  15. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 51.
  16. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 52.
  17. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 54.
  18. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 55.
  19. ^ "Czech Santa". Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  20. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 67.
  21. ^ a b Bowler 2000, pp. 71–72.
  22. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 73.
  23. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Father Christmas". Collins English Dictionary. Collins. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  25. ^ Roud, Steve (2006). The English Year. London: Penguin Books. pp. 385–387. ISBN 978-0-140-51554-1.
  26. ^ Hutton, Ronald (1996). The Stations of the Sun. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 117–118. ISBN 0-19-820570-8.
  27. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 82.
  28. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 86.
  29. ^ "La Saint-Martin :: Office de tourisme des Hauts de Flandre".
  30. ^ "Scherwiller. La fête de la Saint-Martin revient".
  31. ^ "La Saint Martin".
  32. ^ van Gennep, Arnold (1958). Manuel de folklore français contemporain tome 1 ; livre 7 cycle des douze jours : Noël (in French). Paris: Editions A. et J. Picard et Cie. pp. 3014–3016.
  33. ^ "Qui est le Christkindel en Alsace ?". 7 November 2017.
  34. ^ "Goodies - Personnages de Noël - Écomusée d'Alsace".
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  44. ^ Elizabeth, Kiritani (1995). "Dreams of Revenge". Vanishing Japan: Traditions, Crafts & Culture. New York: Tuttle Pub. ISBN 9781462904273. OCLC 777374916.
  45. ^ Reiko, Chiba (1966). The Seven Lucky Gods of Japan. Charles E. Tuttle Co. pp. 9–10. OCLC 40117755.
  46. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 130.
  47. ^ "Our Favourite Lebanese Christmas Traditions". 14 December 2018.
  48. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 133.
  49. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 137.
  50. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 139.
  51. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 148.
  52. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, pp. 154–155.
  53. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 155.
  54. ^ "Santa - te Aka Māori Dictionary".
  55. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 159.
  56. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 170.
  57. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 174.
  58. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 175.
  59. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 178.
  60. ^ a b "Kto przynosi Wam prezenty? Św. Mikołaj, Gwiazdor, Aniołek, Dzieciątko czy może Dziadek Mróz?". 24 December 2019.
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  62. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 184.
  63. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 193.
  64. ^ a b c Bowler 2000, p. 195.
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  66. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 211.
  67. ^ a b c d e f g Bowler 2000, p. 212.
  68. ^ Koehler, Jeff (2013). Spain: Recipes and Traditions from the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucia. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC. p. 96. ISBN 9781452129549.
  69. ^ Ferreira, Maialen (20 December 2021). "Una campaña empodera a Mari Domingi y la iguala con Olentzero en el reparto de regalos en Navidad". (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  70. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 219.
  71. ^ a b Bowler 2000, p. 220.
  72. ^
  73. ^ "Hoy llegan los Reyes Magos: ¿de dónde viene la tradición?". 5 January 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2022.
  74. ^ Bowler 2000, p. 232.
  75. ^ "How do we celebrate Christmas in Hawaii? - Manta Ray Advocates Hawaii". 14 December 2019.
  76. ^ Why Christmas "Christmas in Venezuela". Retrieved on 31 Oct 2022.
  77. ^ King, Gareth (2008). Colloquial Welsh: The Complete Course for Beginners. Oxford: Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-138-96039-8.
  78. ^ Kirkeby, Cynthia (16 November 2008). "Santa's Names Around the World". Archived from the original on 1 December 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2016.


  1. ^ চান্টাক্লজ (Assamese), সান্তা ক্লজ (Bengali), सांता क्लॉज (Bhojpuri), सांता क्लॉज (Dogri), सांता क्लॉज (Goan Konkani), સાન્તા ક્લોસ (Gujarati), ಸಾಂಟಾ ಕ್ಲಾಸ್ (Kannada), सांता क्लॉज (Maithili), ക്രിസ്മസ് പാപ്പാ (Malayalam, lit.'Papa Christmas'), ꯁꯥꯟꯇꯥ ꯀ꯭ꯂꯖ꯫ (Manipuri), सांताक्लॉज (Marathi), सान्टा क्लाउज (Nepali), ସାଣ୍ଟା କ୍ଲଜ୍ (Odia), ਸੈਂਟਾ ਕਲੌਸ (Punjabi), सांता क्लॉज (Sanskrit) சாண்டா கிளாஸ் (Tamil), శాంతా క్లాజు (Telugu), سانتا کلاز (Urdu)


  • Bowler, Gerry (2000). The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-1531-3.
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