Santa is famous around the world. Many different countries celebrate the tradition of gift expectation as they lie their heads down on Christmas Eve, or as they gather with family on Christmas Eve.
The visit from ole’ St. Nick varies from the twilight hours to the night of the 24th, but the end result is the same, of leaving presents for all the good girls and boys.
Christian Klitvang, 17, from Vejle, Denmark, is an exception to the classic tradition. In Denmark, Claus, dressed in his red suit, will knock on doors and deliver gifts in person. Klitvang said his dad dresses as Claus and knocks on the front door.
“Sometimes we will reserve some of the gifts for Christmas morning too,” Klitvang said. If his cousins are visiting, they will keep some of the presents to open in the morning, saying Claus made another visit while they were snuggled in their beds, asleep.
Christmas in Denmark is, “More traditional,” with heavy decor and snow-laden communities. “On Christmas, the family grabs hands and sings carols while dancing around the Christmas tree,” Klitvang said and added that they also make their own ornaments.
Danish traditions include making Pebernodder (pepper nut) cookies, and roasting a duck for a family feast.
The Danish believe Claus lives in Greenland, rather than the North Pole.
Klitvang mixes tradition in his home. “My mother is Mexican, so we decorate our tree with some Mexican things and some Danish things,” he said.
Klitvang’s host brother, Jin, or Atachai Kangsamut (Thai name), from Bangkok, Thailand, said they sometimes celebrate Christmas. “If we have time, we will celebrate and put up a tree, but not every year.” Kangsamut said all the malls put up large, gorgeous trees every year.
In Thailand, they call Santa by the name he’s known for in America, but they don’t place a lot of importance to him. “Sometimes we get gifts and sometimes we don’t.”
Kangsamut said other people in Thailand may celebrate the holiday more than his family does.
Kangsamut said his large family Christmas dinner includes going out to eat at a restaurant.
For their special Christmas wish, the host brothers wish to have a great second semester in America.
Lea Maier, 17, from Gergweis, Germany, a little town in Bavaria, about two hours away from Munich, said their Christmas is full of baking cookies called, Plaetzchen, decorating their Christmas tree, and celebrating Advent.
“We usually we get our tree about two weeks before Christmas,” Maier said.
Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. “We call Advent, Adventskranz, and we have a wreath with four candles on it and every Sunday, before Christmas, we light one of the candles during breakfast leading up to Christmas,” Maier added.
Maier said they also have a calendar that has little doors for every day. “Called Adventskalender, starting Dec. 1, you are allowed to open one of the doors, which have numbers on them so you can open No. 1 on the first day and No. 2 on the second day, and so on. Inside the door, will be a chocolate or little present, depending on the kind of Adventskalenderyou have.”
In Germany, their version of Santa is called Christkind, which translates to Christ Child. “He is pictured as an angel with long blond wavy hair and a white flowy dress and a halo,” Maier explained.
“Santa Claus or how we call him, Saint Nikolaus, brings children presents on Dec. 6.” Maier said. Children leave written Christmas wishes on their window sills Dec. 24.
They, like Klitvang, celebrate Christmas on Dec. 24, “Usually the whole family comes together,” she said, and cook a pork roast with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.
Maier wishes for books for Christmas, but she likes being surprised.