My boys know that on Christmas night Santa will come down the chimney and leave them presents by the tree, while their cousins, who live in Romania, wait for Santa to knock at their door on Christmas Eve. They will have a chat and before leaving, Santa will hand them their gifts.
Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year and people who celebrate it look forward to the joy and glamour. We all enjoy spending time with our families, decorating our homes, singing carols and opening gifts but the way we do these may differ from one country to another. The specificity of the Christmas celebration isn’t reflected only by different traditions and recipes but also by how we receive gifts from Santa.
I grew up in Romania where Saint Nicolas was the first to bring gifts to kids on the 6th of December. I would leave my shoes in front of my bedroom door before going to bed and wake up to a little present. The tradition says that naughty kids receive no presents but a stick. It never happened to me or any of my friends though our parents made sure we didn’t forget it.
Santa brings his gifts on the Christmas Eve or leaves them under the tree for kids to find in the morning. Sometimes a grandfather, family friend or neighbor would dress up as Santa and come to meet you in person. You’d have to sing a song or recite a poem and he’d hand you one or more gifts.
On the other side of the world, Vietnamese kids leave their shoes in front of their doors and Santa fills them with treats and gifts on the Christmas night.
In Norway Santa isn’t the only one to give gifts. Between Christmas and the New Year’s Eve children will go from house to house, sing Christmas songs and receive candy. This tradition is phasing out in Europe but the Scandinavian immigrants brought it to America where it is still celebrated in rural communities with large population of Scandinavian origin.
If in America children leave a glass of milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, in the UK the glass of milk is replaced by sherry or mulled wine and the cookies by biscuits or chocolate. In Australia nobody leaves carrots because Santa’s sleigh isn’t pulled by reindeer but kangaroos and water seems more appropriate.
Christmas gifts may not be delivered the same way around the world but kids share the same happiness when receiving them, no matter the country they live in.
This post is part of our third annual Christmas in Different Lands series. Drop by the Christmas in Different Lands landing page to follow along as we count down to Christmas!