What Does Santa Look Like in Other Countries?

santa-look-like-other-countries Credit: Jonathan Kirn/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

The physical and mythological representation of Santa Claus varies across cultures. The traditional representation of jolly Saint Nick that is so popular in Western society originated from the Dutch version, Sint Nikolaas, according to the Christmas Connection on Lone-Star.net.

While many cultures have their own individual interpretations of the man called Santa Claus, not all relating to the Christmas story, most have conformed to the modern tradition of sharing gifts each year on December 25th.

In England, Santa is known as Father Christmas and is drawn with a longer beard and old-fashioned red coat. In China he is known as Shengdan Laoren. In France children await presents from Pere Noel. In Italy his name is Babbo Natale. Pã Norsk is the Norwegian version. In Latin America, where there are many Catholics, "el Niño Jesus" is said to bring gifts to children. Interestingly, in Dutch culture, Sinter Klaas is drawn much thinner than the Western Santa Claus, and he is usually riding a white horse.

The Santa Claus myth incorporates many different elements, including aspects from Christian and pagan traditions. In Christianity the Patron Saint of Giving was known as St. Nicholas. In paganism Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka, meaning "snow girl," brought gifts to children during New Year's celebrations. The blending of these two separate traditions likely led to the modern interpretation of Santa.