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Santa Claus is a popular figure all over the world and is so long associated with Christmas celebrations that he is known as Father Christmas. The legend of St Nicholas is said to be the origin of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus All Over The World

The present-day Christmas traditions are said to have their origin the Victorian period during 1860s. Santa Claus or Father Christmas has many forms around the world that have different personalities, different duties and dresses. Here we are going to discuss some of the characters that play the Christmas angels and can be said similar to our beloved Santa Claus all over the world. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, St. Lucia is believed to mark the beginning of the Christmas festivities and is also known as St. Lucy or 'Little Yule'. On this day, the oldest daughter in each family rises early and dresses up in a long white gown with a red sash and a crown made of twigs with nine lighted candles on top. She is known as 'Lussi' for the day and has duty to wake up each family member dressed in this manner.

Finnish, too, choose a girl annually to be the national Lucia and she parades surrounded by torchbearers as the name Lucia, derived from the Latin word 'Lux' means 'Light'. It is said that on St Lucia Day, sun's rays again start to strengthen. According to the legend, Lucia is the patron saint of the blind. She lived in Syracuse in the 4th century when Christians were persecuted for their beliefs. Though, not much is known about her, it is said that she lost her sight because of a Diocletian tortured her much for following Christianity. Other version of the story says that she plucked her own eyes, as she could not bear to see Christians being tortured so cruelly anymore. Scandinavian children leave their shoes on hearth for Saint Nicholas to fill them with treats while American children who known him as Father Christmas hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve in the hope of getting gifts from him.

Santa Claus All Over The WorldThe popularity of St Nicholas reached America in the 18th century with the Dutch families, who knew him as 'Sinter Klaas', which later got transformed to 'Santa Claus'. He used to wear a broad-rimmed hat then with huge Flemish trunk hose. Later, he turned into a joker with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat and yellow stockings. The present-day image of Santa Claus is attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, who wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters in 1822 that was called 'An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.' He lent Santa the image of 'jolly old elf' with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney. The poem picturized that he flew from house to house on Christmas Eve in 'a miniature sleigh' led by eight flying reindeers and left presents for children who were good and obedient all through the year. Thomas Nast, the famous cartoonist added red clothes and protruding belly in 1881 along with a full, white beard and a sack of toys. He introduced North Pole toy workshop of Santa, his had-working elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus too.

Swiss children wait for Christ-child on Christmas while Kris Kringle is the one to deliver gifts to German children. In hilly regions of Scandinavia, a jolly elf Jultomten delivers gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English children known Santa Claus by the name of Father Christmas while Pere Noel fills the shows of French children with treats and toys dutifully. Russian has an old lady called Babouschka who does the job on 5th of January every year. It is said that this lady was so used to solitude that she did not like being disturbed by the three wise men to ask for directions to Bethlehem. In anger, she gave them the wrong directions to mislead them as her supposed revenge. However, she repented her actions later and went in search of the men to tell them the right path and ask for forgiveness but she was too late and could not find them anymore. Ever since then, she visits Russian children and leave gifts for them in the hope that may be one of them is Baby Jesus who will then forgive her. Italians have a kind witch called La Befana who delivers gifts to the children's stockings while riding a broomstick.