This Map Shows What Santa Claus Is Called Across Europe

© Jakub Marian 
© Jakub Marian
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor18 December 2017

What did you call Santa Claus when you were growing up?

If you’re from the UK, it was probably Father Christmas. If you’re French, Père Noël would fill your stocking.

This map shows the fascinating differences between different European languages, via the medium of the Christmas gift-giver’s name.

A map of Christmas gift-givers across Europe | © Jakub Marian

Versions of Father, Daddy and Grandfather Christmas are common, as are ‘Christmas Man’, ‘Christ Child’ and other variants of Jesus Christ.

Every European country has a version of the name, and it’s interesting to see how the different languages alter them.

The map also shows the different gift-givers that countries have. For example, Italian folklore has the character of La Befana, a witch who brings presents to kids on January 5.

What name do you call Santa Claus? | © / Unsplash

She’s similar to Santa in that she fills children’s socks with small presents and sweets if they’ve been well behaved, or brings coal or dark-coloured sweets if they haven’t.

Her story states that she gave the three wise men a bed for the night while they were travelling to see the baby Jesus and stopped to ask her for directions. She was the best housekeeper in her village, hence her broom and witch associations.

They asked her if she wanted to join them to meet Jesus, but she said she was too busy. Later she was filled with regret and changed her mind, but was unable to find the three wise men to join them. Legend states that she’s looking for the baby Jesus to this day.

The map was made by Czech linguist and cartographer Jakub Marian.

Who did you address your Christmas wish lists to?

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