Christmas is a worldwide phenomenon, and so is the holiday’s number one fan and symbol, Santa Claus. So it makes sense that because people all over the world celebrate Christmas differently, they also see Santa in different ways and have different traditions.

For instance, in France Christmas goes by the term Noel, and Santa goes by the name Pere Noel. Like the United States, the French who celebrate the holiday do so with a Christmas tree. Sometimes, the French decorate their trees in the traditional, which is with bright red ribbons and real candles, instead of the garland, electric lights, and fancy decorations used in the US. They also believe in decorating outside, especially the evergreen trees on their properties, which they cover with lights that they leave on all night long.

In Hungary, the Christmas tradition is a bit different than the French or American versions. In this Eastern European country, Santa Claus is called the “Winter Grandfather,” or Mikulas in their language. He comes not on Christmas Eve, but on December 6. It’s the job of children before this day to make sure that they are clean and that they have cleaned their rooms. For these good children, Winter Grandfather leaves candies and toys for them in freshly cleaned shoes or boots. For those children who don’t clean? They get a golden birch, which means they deserve a spanking! In Hungary it’s not Santa Claus (or Winter Grandfather), but Baby Jesus and the angels who brings presents and the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. To give him time to set them up, families usually go visit a relative’s house or go to the movies.

In Germany, the holidays are all about the decorations. They love putting electric candles in their lights, and covering their homes with all sorts of lights and colors. The German specialty decoration is the Adventskranz, which is actually a leaf wreath with four candles in it. And like many American homes, Germans like to decorate inside with a manger scene, the famous depiction of the stable, with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, animals, and the Three Wise Men. Father Christmas brings children from Germany presents on Christmas Eve, while St. Nicholas brings small gifts on December 6.

Kids should consider moving to Latvia along the Baltic Sea for Christmas time. There, Father Christmas brings presents for all of the 12 days of Christmas, with the first day of gift giving coming on Christmas Eve. Latvia also claims to be the home of the first ever Christmas tree, documented in the year 1510. Then again, you might want to check the menu before visiting this country. The traditional meal on Christmas is brown peas with bacon sauce, sausage, cabbage, and small pies.

Here’s a meal that sounds delectable and Christmas will still be a blast–it’s in New Zealand. Since Christmas arrives in the middle of summer for New Zealand children, their Christmas dinners usually include foods on the BBQ, like ham, shrimp and fish. Many towns enjoy Christmas parades throughout the holiday season. Similar to children in America, families open Christmas presents from Santa Claus on Christmas Day. However, some people love Christmas so much, they also celebrate this Santa-driven holiday in the middle of July, when it is cold enough for a proper English Christmas dinner.

Wherever you are on the map, you can obviously enjoy Christmas in one way or another. And don’t worry. With his reindeer-powered sleigh, Santa will find you no matter where in the world you are living.

About the Author

Randy Stocklin is the co-owner of Mail from Santa Claus. Mail from Santa Claus offers memorable letters from Santa Claus that helps keep the Christmas spirit alive. For more information about Mail from Santa Claus and to purchase letters from Santa please visit