In places where the seasons are well defined and the winter months are cold, December often brings a celebration that revolves around a particular character who brings the festive spirit along with a bag of presents for children. Mostly they focus on the figure of a kind old man. In the USA and Canada, he is known as Santa Claus. In Europe, many countries celebrate his prototype, Saint Nicholas. In Slavic country, people wait for Father Frost, who also looks and behaves like Santa Claus. In Scandinavia, the gifts are brought by a gnome, and in Iceland, there is a jolly gang of trolls. But the list doesn’t end here. There are plenty of other unique gift-bringers!
Get to know fourteen gift-bringers from around the world! Besides Santa Claus and his loyal helper Christmas Elf, you will get to know Befana (Italy), Christkind (Austria, Switzerland, Germany and many other European countries), Julenisse (Scandinavia), Knecht Ruprecht (Germany), Krampus (Austria, Germany, Croatia), Olentzero (parts of Spain and France), Saint Lucia (Scandinavia and Italy), Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and many other European countries), Snegurochka (Russia), Tovlis Papa (Georgia), Yule Lad (Iceland), and Zwarte Piet (Netherlands). Each of them will tell you about a new tradition from their country. If you like them, you can try some new traditions for yourself!
Christmas Around the World Pack Features
- four paper dolls, two boys and two girls, both in colour and black-and-white to colour your own
- fourteen costumes (hats, wigs, and clothes), also both in colour and in black-and-white if you wish to colour your own
- information cards about fourteen different characters associated with winter holidays around the world
- each character wishes “Merry Christmas” in his own language (except Krampus whose customary greeting is Gruß vom Krampus)
37 printable PDF pages!
Here are a few questions that may need answering before you decide how suitable this pack is for your family!
Can I use this pack if my children still believe in Santa Claus?
Yes, as long as they would be alright with the knowledge that children in other countries get gifts from different characters. While some of the articles on gift-bringing characters briefly discuss their roots, the fact that parents play their roles in the modern world has been tactfully omitted. If your children already know that, they will understand. If they don’t, the articles shouldn’t reveal any secrets.
Is this pack religiously-oriented or secular-oriented?
Neither. This material objectively presents the traditions in different cultures without much examination of the belief-systems behind them. Many gift-bringers came from Christian traditions (Christkind, Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucia, and, surprisingly, Befana), while others have pagan or secular origins (Yule Lad, Julnisse, Snow Maiden).
Do all these characters come at Christmas time?
Thereabouts. As you meet different characters, you will find out that not all of them come on Christmas day, though. Sinterklaas comes on his own day, December 6, but for those countries who celebrate him, this is the beginning of the seasonal winter celebrations. Tovlis Papa, from Georgia, behaves in many ways like Santa Claus and brings gifts for children, but he actually comes on New Year’s Eve. Befana is even known to sneak into houses through a chimney to leave her gifts, but she comes on the day of Epiphany (January 6), which concludes the holiday celebrations in Italy.
Whenever these characters come though, they add to the festive spirit of winter celebrations. And if you get into the spirit of Christmas around the world, you can hold your own celebrations of different characters. Have Krampus visit on December 6 or dress like Saint Lucia, with candles in your hair, on December 13.