What do they call Santa in other countries?


With the Christmas holiday approaching, I got to wondering what they call Santa in other countries. Of course, some countries don't celebrate Christmas - but most countries at least have some sort of "winter holiday," and most also have some tradition of gift-giving. So, I guess the better question might be "What do they call their Christmas & Winter gift-bringers in other countries?"

Before we answer that question, here's a picture of some Christmas decorations, provided by my world-traveling friend Eva. She took this picture in Salzburg, Austria.

Hmm ... so, what are these decorations? According to a Wikipedia table on this topic, Austria's gift-bringers are St. Nikolaus (or Nikolo) and  Christkind (Christ Child), so perhaps that's what these decorations represent(?) Here's a snapshot of a portion of the Wikipedia table:

Looking up one country name in the table isn't too bad, but what if you're curious about several countries? And what about people who are geographically challenged, and don't know where the countries in the table are located in relation to each other? It seems like a map might come in handy, to use in combination with the table, eh?

I copy-n-pasted the table data into an Excel spreadsheet, and imported the spreadsheet into SAS (making sure to use a utf8 SAS session, to preserve all the international characters in the table), and created my own map. I first experimented with coloring the map based on the "gift-bringer" names ... but there were just too many names (and combinations of names) to choose that many unique colors. Therefore, I made all the countries with data a single color, and let the user mouse-over the countries to see the gift-bringer name(s).

Click the image below, to see the full-size interactive map with HTML mouse-over text for each country. Hopefully you will enjoy this map, and it will put you into the holiday spirit!

What do you call the Christmas/Winter gift-bringer where you're from? Has the name changed from when you were young? Do you have any unique names that aren't in the Wikipedia table?



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.


  1. Unfortunately the chart on Wikipedia included an error in the Korean translation. 산타 클로스 is read as Santa Claus instead of Santa Harabeoji (which is written as 산타 할아버지). But I always love your graphs and learn a lot from them anyway!

    • Robert Allison

      Ok - I've (hopefully) fixed it in my map now! When you hover your mouse over South Korea, you should now see both Korean words and both English translations. Thanks for the help! (If you don't see both, you might have to Ctrl+refresh your browser, or clean out your browser cache so the new file will be loaded.)

  2. Uschi Hagstroem on

    Interesting. Now if you could explain to me why the Christkind is a girl with golden locks and angel wings? As a child that always confused me.

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