Santa has a lot of different names

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We talked the other day about the real origin of Santa Claus and how the name evolved from St. Nicholas. But he’s not Santa Claus round the world. Here are just a few of the varying names for the jolly old elf.

Belgium –  Pere Noel
Brazil – Papai Noel
Chile – Viejo Pascuero (“Old Man Christmas”)
China – Dun Che Lao Ren (“Christmas Old Man”)
Netherlands – Kerstman
Finland – Joulupukki
France – Pere Noel
Germany – Weihnachtsmann (“Christmas Man”)
Hawaii – Kanakaloka
Hungary – Mikulas (St. Nicholas)
Italy – Babbo Natale
Japan – Hoteiosho (a god or priest who bears gifts)
Norway – Julenissen (“Christmas gnome”)
Poland – Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas)
Russia – Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”)
Sweden – Jultomten (“Christmas brownie”)
United Kingdom – Father Christmas

I’m glad that I only have to remember one name for Santa.

Favorite Christmas Movies

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There are lots of Christmas movies and shows out there. Here in no particular order are five of my favorites.

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White Christmas
Santa doesn’t actually show up in this movie. But it’s all about giving and has an amazing cast featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.

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It’s Wonderful Life
“No man is a failure how has friends.” – Clarence the Angel quoting Mark Twain.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
We love both the original cartoon and the live action version.

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The Santa Clause
Tim Allen is the man who doesn’t want to be Santa in this charming, yet hysterical movie. When Santa falls off Scott Calvin’s (Allen) roof, “The Santa Clause” is invoked. Calvin and his son deliver the toys that evening, but over the next year Calvin experiences doubt as he slowly becomes the jolly old elf.

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Elf
Because the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud so all can hear.

Trust us, these are just a few that we like to watch every year. Share your favorites in the comments.

Why Does Santa Live at the North Pole?

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Not Santa’s actual house.

The simple reason Santa lives at the North Pole? It’s not crowded, there’s room for the reindeer, and people don’t give the elves funny looks.

But the reason we focus on the North Pole as the home of Santa has little to do with tradition. The original St. Nicholas lived in a Roman town in what is now the Country of Turkey.

Santa was first associated with the North Pole by American cartoonist Thomas Nast.

Since Christmas was associated with snow and cold, the North Pole seemed a logical choice.

Nast’s drawings in Harper’s Weekly helped standardize the vision of Santa in his fur trimmed red suit delivering toys from his North Pole workshop.

When Nast proposed the North Pole as Santa’s workshop location in the mid 1800s, no other humans had visited there. That wouldn’t happen until 1909.

Santa’s house wasn’t found, by the way.

Christmas magic.

But, you knew that.

The Care and Feeding of Reindeer

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Thanks Santa for those two posts this week. I hope you get that beach house. I really do.

Folks one of the many reasons Santa needs to get away every so often is that reindeer, as loveable and as essential as they are, can be a bit of a pain to take care of.

Consider the things Santa has to keep in mind.

Reindeer eat mostly hay and reindeer food which is not readily available at the North Pole. Santa has to drive down into Canada to find the closest feed store.

Reindeer aren’t native to the North Pole. Santa has his favorite eight reindeer, and Rudolph of course, but he often has to go to Finland to recruit alternates just in case one of the others can’t fly on Christmas Eve.

In the off months, the reindeer train in a special facility Santa had built at the North Pole. And ever since that nasty incident with Rudolph the reindeer games have been open to all entrants.

And sure, Santa has a veterinarian on hand along with a certain set of elves to help in caring for the reindeer, and ultimately, he’s the one responsible.

Christmas and being Santa is so much more than toys, folks.

Why Milk and Cookies?

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For years (centuries even) children have been leaving milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. Never mind that’s how he gets to the bowl full of jelly part.

The tradition goes way back to when Santa Claus was known as St. Nicholas. On St. Nicholas Day (Celebrated December 6, we’ll talk about that another time), children would leave out food and drink which would be exchanged for gifts overnight.

In other traditions, such as in Germany where the first Christmas trees were decorated with apples and cookies Santa would often snack on the tree decorations. When decorations became shiny balls and baubles, the tradition of the snacks remained.

Norse mythology had children leaving out hay and other treats for Sleipner, Odin’s eight legged horse.

During the Depressionin the United States parents wanted to teach their children to share, even though they themselves might be struggling, so they would encourage the children to leave snacks for Santa and the reindeer.

While Children around the world leave various treats for Santa, the cookies and milk seem to be the American version of a long-standing tradition.

Santa doesn’t seem to mind.