I don’t think I was really aware of Christmas’ biblical meanings when I was a little girl. I only knew it was that time of the year when I didn’t have to go to school, my mother prepared lots of delicious cookies and traditional holiday dishes, and I got to decorate my Christmas tree. But for me, the most exciting thing about this holiday was Santa Claus.
Growing up in my native Romania during the Communist years, we used to call him by the name Moş Gerilă (or Old Man Frost since the word ”Christmas” wasn’t very popular during that era) instead of Moş Crăciun (Old Man Christmas) as he is traditionally known.
However, even if his name differs from one country to another, children around the world share a common view of Santa Claus as the old man who brings gifts to little girls and boys.
In England, his name is Father Christmas and he leaves gifts in stockings on Christmas Eve.
In France, he is known as Père Noël. On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Père Noël.
In Italy, traditionally there was no Santa Claus but a witch named La Befana who brought presents and sweets. Nowadays, most children inItalybelieve in Santa Claus. He is called Babbo Natale inItaly.
In Russia, Santa Claus is known as Father Frost (Ded Moroz). Folklore depicts him riding with an evergreen tree in a traditional Russian sleigh drawn by three horses.
In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger to bring gifts on Christmas Eve. The messenger’s name is Christkind and appears as an angel in a white robe and crown. There is also a character who looks like Santa Claus, called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, who also brings gifts.
In Portugal, he is known as Pai Natal.
Ecuadorians call him Santa Claus, but Papá Noel is more widely used. He is also known as Papá Noel in Argentina.
In Hungarian he is called Mikulás (from St. Nikolaus).
Santa Claus’ name in Polish is Swiety Mikolaj.
In Greece, there is Agios Vassilios. He comes to visit on New Year’s Eve to bring presents.
In Bosnian, Santa Claus is referred to as Djed Mraz.
Papa Noel is the Haitian Creole version of Santa Claus.
In Brazil, Santa Claus is called Papai Noel, and because in December it is so warm in Brazil, he usually wears light-weight, silk clothing.
In Lebanon, most Christians speak English or French as a second language, so they simply use Santa Claus or Papa Noel. However, since the letter “P” doesn’t exist in the Lebanese alphabet, the written word became Baba Noel. “Baba” means “Papa” in Lebanese.
The Spanish translation for Santa is Papá Noel.
Check this infograph about Santa Claus created by wintranslation team.
Note: The translation for the different names of Santa Claus around the world was collected in part from Internet resources and a group of professional translators provided additional information.