December 03, 2010

The Search for Santa, 2010

Building upon our discovery of Santa in Los Angeles last year we are embarking on a similar search this month. The goal this year is to compare the distribution of Christmas related characters within the greater European context (Iceland to Azerbaijan on the West-East axis; Norway to Morocco on the North-South axis). While this clearly captures historical European Christendom it also crosses over into territories in which Islamic, Jewish and other religious traditions dominate.

The goal is to map the cultural diffusion of Santa in general and the local variants. For example, the results for the Basque tradition of Olentzero is already producing some really interesting geographies. We hope it will also be a means by which to show linguistic differences as well, e.g., variations on Ded Moroz in Cyrillic languages.

Were conducting searches on the list of names below...mostly variations on Santa Claus but with a few other characters as well (e.g., Krampus and Zwarte Piet). We've no doubt missed some. We started with the wiki list although made some changes. Please take a look at the list below and make suggestions/corrections and we'll add them to the search.

Also, if anyone has other suggestions for similar types of searches on non-Western (particularly Chinese) cultural icons please let us know.
  • Names in English (Kris Kringle)
  • Names in English (Saint Nicholas)
  • Names in English (Santa Claus)
  • Names in English (Father Christmas)
  • Albania (Babadimri )
  • Albania (Babagjyshi i Krishtlindjeve )
  • Arabic (بابا نويل)
  • Aragon and Catalonia (Reis Mags )
  • Aragon and Catalonia (Tió de Nadal)
  • Aragon and Catalonia (Tronca de Navidad)
  • Armenia (Ձմեռ Պապիկ )
  • Azerbaijan (Şaxta baba)
  • Basque (Olentzero)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Djeda Mraz )
  • Bulgaria (Дядо Коледа )
  • Croatia (Djed Božičnjak )
  • Croatia (Djed Mraz )
  • Czech Republic (Ježíšek )
  • Czech Republic (Svatý Mikuláš )
  • Denmark (Julemanden)
  • Estonia (Jõuluvana)
  • Estonia (päkapikk)
  • Finland (Joulupukki)
  • France (Père Noël)
  • Georgia (თოვლის ბაბუა )
  • Germany (Sankt Nikolaus)
  • Germany (Weihnachtsmann )
  • Germany, Austria, Switzerland & Liechtenstein (Christkind)
  • Germany-Austria (Krampus)
  • Greece_Cyprus (Άγιος Βασίλης )
  • Hungary (Jézuska)
  • Hungary (Kis Jézus )
  • Hungary (Télapó )
  • Iceland (jólasveinarnir )
  • Iceland (Jólasveinn )
  • Ireland (Daidí na Nollaig)
  • Ireland (Santa Claus)
  • Ireland (Santy)
  • Italy (La Befana )
  • Italy & Switzerland (Babbo Natale)
  • Latvia (Ziemassvētku vecītis )
  • Lebanon (Papa Noel)
  • Lithuania (Kalėdų Senelis )
  • Lithuania (Senis Šaltis )
  • Luxembourg (Hoseker)
  • Luxembourg (Kleeschen)
  • Macedonia (Дедо Мраз )
  • Netherlands & Flanders (Kerstman )
  • Netherlands & Flanders (Sint Niklaas)
  • Netherlands & Flanders (Sinterklaas)
  • Netherlands & Flanders (Zwarte Piet)
  • Norway (Julenissen)
  • Poland (Gwiazdor )
  • Poland (Święty Mikołaj )
  • Portugal (Pai Natal)
  • Portgual (more Brazilian?) (Papai Noel )
  • Romania, Moldova (Moș Crăciun )
  • Romania, Moldova (Moș Gerilă )
  • Romania, Moldova (Moș Nicolae )
  • Russia (Ded Moroz)
  • Russia (Дед Мороз )
  • Serbia (Božić Bata )
  • Serbia (Deda Mraz )
  • Serbia (Божић Бата )
  • Serbia (Дедa Мрaз )
  • Spain (Papá Noel)
  • Spain (Reyes Magos )
  • Sweden (Jultomten)
  • Switzerland (Père Noël)
  • Turkey (Noel Baba )
  • Turkmenistan (Aýaz baba )
  • Ukraine (Did Moroz)
  • Ukraine (Svyatyy Mykolay)
  • Ukraine (Дід Мороз)
  • United Kingdom (Father Christmas)


  1. Not sure if you are exclusively after Santa Claus or not, but "päkapikk" in Estonian referes to the dwarfs, not the old man himself.

  2. Aitäh. Minu lapsed meeldib päkapikk. Nende vanaema on parit Eestist. And that's the end of my ability to write in Estonian....

    We're looking mostly for the old man but more general terms are of interest as well.

  3. In the Netherlands it is only "kerstman".

    Sinterklaas and Sint Niklaas are both Saint Nicholas, who is being celebrated on the 5th of December. So no connection to Christmas.

    And 'zwarte Piet' (black Pete) is a bit difficult to explain but these Petes accompany St. Nicholas.

  4. Väga hea! Palju päkapikke sinu lastele ;)

  5. For traditional Chinese, try "聖誕老人" or "聖誕老公公".
    For simplified Chinese, try "圣诞老人".

  6. in Chile it's "Viejo Pascuero"

  7. If 'The goal is to map the cultural diffusion of Santa in general and the local variants' then I think Sinterklaas should be included. Especially if you are also including Kleeschen in Luxemburg.

    How about adding the following:

    'Père Fouettard' in Lotharingen, France
    'Sünnerklaas' in Bremen, Germany
    'St. Nikolaus', 'Samichlaus', 'Santiglaus' and his help 'Schmutzli' in Switzerland
    'kallikantzaros' in Greece (not sure about this one)

    Also, an alternative name for sinterklaas in the Netherlands which you haven't listed yet is 'Sint Nicolaas'.

  8. In Russian there are some problems, because of the Soviet Union there are conflicts. If anything add the Russian version of Santa and the English version as well. Communism didn't allow x-mas, so they created mr. winter who took his place until the soviet union fell bringing back the correct dates... theres an old and new years that are both celebrated... double check facts, thanks, Ty


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