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Volume III
December 20, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Christmas Treats for Santa
from Around the World

By Whitney Saupan

Have you ever wondered what people in other countries leave out for Good Old Saint Nick? I have! My family always left out (and admittedly, although we are all grown and most of us married, we still do leave out) cookies and milk for Santa Claus. I would also leave out enough carrots so that each reindeer could have one and a candy cane for Rudolph. I love traditions like this. I also really enjoy learning about what other cultures do, so I thought, "What could be better than seeing what other countries do on Christmas Eve?" Here's a list of countries, what they call Santa Claus and what kind of (mostly) delicious treats they leave out.

  • United States and Canada: From my understanding most people in the United States and Canada call Santa Claus, well Santa Claus. As far as I could tell most people leave out milk and cookies for their jolly friend.
  • Chile: People in Chile refer to Santa as "Viejo Pascuero" which translates to Old Man Christmas. In Chile Viejo Pascuero gets treated to a traditional sponge cake treat made with ginger, honey, and candied fruit. It's called pan de Pascua! Sounds yummy!
  • Germany: The Santa equivalent in German is "Weihnachtsman" translated to Christmas Man. It just looks like it would be so fun to say. In the articles I read, it seems like people in Germany do not leave any treats out for Weihnactsman, but instead leave letters to him, which he takes and replaces with presents. It's like writing a letter to Santa!
  • Denmark: The good people of Denmark call Santa "Julemanden". Julemanden is always a little late to Denmark because they celebrate on Christmas Eve. His helpers, elves, called Nisser live in the attics of homes and play tricks on you if you don't leave out any food for them on Christmas. Normally it's a bowl of rice pudding called risengrød. There is an almond hidden in the pudding and if you're the one to find it, you'll probably have good luck in the coming year.
  • Netherlands: In the Netherlands "Sinterklass" uses horses, not reindeer, to travel around. The children in the Netherlands will leave out carrots, hay, and water for the horses. Because of this, the children receive hot cocoa, chocolate coins, marzipan, and mandarin oranges.
  • France:"Père Noël" and his donkey, Gui, visit on Christmas eve. In France they leave treats like carrots, in their shoes for Santa's donkey. In exchange Père Noël gives them small gifts! I want to see this Christmas donkey, it sounds fantastic!
  • Argentina: Saint Nick is affectionately known as "Papá Noel" here. In Argentina they leave out a small refreshment of sidra, which is an alcoholic apple cider.
  • Ireland, England, and Australia: Although these three countries may be different they leave very similar treats out for Santa Claus or "Father Christmas" as he may be called. In England and Australia people leave out a glass of sherry and mince pies out. In Ireland they also leave mince pies, but instead of sherry they leave out a pint of Guinness.
  • China: In China they call Santa "Dun Che Lao Ren", which translates to Christmas Old Man. Those who celebrate Christmas hang stockings and light beautiful paper lanterns to welcome Dun Che Lao Ren.
  • Kenya: The children of Kenya don't often leave treats out of Santa, but if he gets to the party before all of the goodies are gone he can snack on some roasted goat. Tasty?

Please note that there are many, many more countries and Christmas traditions in the world. I just selected a random sample. If you know of any cool customs from other countries please leave a comment below!


Whitney Saupan
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2013

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