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On the First Day of Christmas


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It is unavoidable now. Christmas is on its way. Here in Townsville the shopping centres have their Santa’s out and posing with screaming, crying children. Christmas decorations adorn everything and the excitement is building as kids know school is coming to an end and that means Christmas holidays! In the Jarvis household we are all looking forward to setting up our Christmas tree and letting the kids get their hands dirty with making decorations and Christmas cards. I am beginning to ease them into Christmas carols and my 2 year old son Mish loves to belt out Jingle Bells as he chases the cat around the house.

We have our own little Christmas traditions, mixing from Mike’s Canadian upbringing and myself Aussie born and bred and along the way as our babies grow, we are making some traditions of our own. Another beautiful thing is our children are incredibly inquisitive and are fascinated with other cultures. Our daughter is obsessed with ancient mythology and can talk about ancient Egypt underwater and with a mouth full of marbles! Christmas is another perfect opportunity for us to teach them how other cultures celebrate Christmas. We’ve already covered the Christian version of Christmas, the birth of Jesus and the Three Wise Men. This year we will be taking them to midnight mass.

So, what do other countries do this time of year? What does Christmas mean to them? Just how busy does Santa get and does he have help? I put on my trusty ‘nerd’ glasses and set about finding out what the world gets up to on Christmas and there are some pretty awesome traditions (and versions of Santa) out there!

In some countries Santa has some extra help with delivering gifts. In Nicaragua the Three Wise Men bring gifts to the children. Father Noel delivers gifts in Brazil in silk clothing (because it is so warm over there). Svaty Mikalas descends from Heaven accompanied by an angel and a devil on a golden rope to deliver gifts to the children of Czechoslovakia. Pere Noel has help in his buddy Pre Fouttard who points out who has been naughty and who has been nice in France, leaving gifts for the good children on the 6th December (St Nicholas Eve) and he returns again on Christmas. Adults in France exchange their gifts on New Year’s Day.

In Japan Hoteiosho, a kindly old man with eyes in the back of his head bestows gifts to the children.  Sinterklaas is busy around the Netherlands, sailing in from Spain on December 5th, the children leave their shoes on the windowsill, filled with hay and sugar for his horse. Sinterklaas will even come into the house and ask the children if they have been naughty or nice! An elf known as Julebuck delivers gifts in Norway and Saint Nicholas spreads his Christmas cheer through Russia and Germany. In Spain, Balthazar, who is one of the Three Wise Men rides through on his donkey leaving gifts for the children. Tomte the Christmas gnome climbs out from under the house in Sweden to leave Christmas gifts for family. La Befana, an elderly woman who was too busy cleaning her house to help the Three Wise Men now travels the earth in search of the Christ Child and during her travels gives gifts to the Italian children. Julemanden arrives in Denmark aboard a reindeer driven sleigh with his Juul Nisse (elves) to help deliver the gifts.  Father Christmas and Santa have England, America and Australia covered!

Christmas all over the world is a fun and festive season filled with dreams, love, hope and peace. All families and friends get together and just have fun. My children are excited to see what Santa brings them on Christmas Day and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Who knows, in the lead up to Christmas in our house we may have a visit from the cheeky sprites that like to wreak havoc in houses over in Greece? I know Tilly is going to be absolutely fascinated when I get to sit and tell her all about the other Santa’s around the world.



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