Père Noël (French pronunciation: [pɛʁ nɔ.ɛl] ), "Father Christmas", sometimes called 'Papa Noël' ("Daddy Christmas"), is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France and other French-speaking areas, identified with the Father Christmas and/or Santa Claus of English-speaking territories. Though they were traditionally different, all of them are now the same character, with different names, and the shared characteristics of a red outfit, workshop at the North Pole, and team of reindeer.
According to tradition, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes; candy, money or small toys.
Père Noël is sometimes confused with another character. In Eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine regions), in Belgium, in Switzerland, and in Eastern Europe there is a parallel tradition to celebrate Saint Nicolas on December 6. He is followed by Le Père Fouettard , who exists also in different parts of Germany ( Knecht Ruprecht or Belsnickel ), Austria ( Krampus ), the Netherlands Nicolaas van Myra, and Belgium ( Zwarte Piet in Dutch, Le Père Fouettard in French). Le Père Fouettard is a sinister figure dressed in black who accompanies Saint Nicolas and spanks children who have behaved badly.
In Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, due to the influence of French culture in the 19th century, the name of Papá Noel/Papai Noel was adopted, opposing for example the name of Pai Natal in Portugal. In Turkey there is Noel Baba.
In Louisiana Cajun culture, a version of Papa Noël is modeled after Santa Claus, in which he arrives at homes in a pirogue towed by eight alligators.
Father Christmas is the traditional English name for the personification of Christmas. Although now known as a Christmas gift-bringer, and normally considered to be synonymous with American culture's Santa Claus which is now known worldwide, he was originally part of an unrelated and much older English folkloric tradition. The recognisably modern figure of the English Father Christmas developed in the late Victorian period, but Christmas had been personified for centuries before then.
Belgian culture involves both the aspects shared by all Belgians regardless of the language they speak and the differences between the main cultural communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish and the French-speaking Walloons. Most Belgians view their culture as an integral part of European culture. However, members of each of the two main linguistic groups generally make their cultural choices from within their own community, and then, when going beyond, the Flemish draw intensively from both the English-speaking culture and the Netherlands, whereas French-speakers focus on cultural life in France and elsewhere in the French-speaking world, and less outside.
Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. Other names for the figure include De Sint, De Goede Sint, and De Goedheiligman in Dutch; Saint Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in West Frisian; Sinterklaos in Limburgs; Saint-Nikloi in West Flemish; Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish; and Sankt Nikolaus or Nikolaus in German.
The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany Saint Nicholas throughout the territories formerly in the Holy Roman Empire or the countries that it influenced culturally. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. Jacob Grimm associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The association of the Christmas gift-bringer with elves has parallels in English and Scandinavian folklore, and is ultimately and remotely connected to the Christmas elf in modern American folklore.
Saint Nicholas Day, also called the Feast of Saint Nicholas, is observed on the 6th of December or on the eve of the 5th of December in Western Christian countries, and on the 19th of December in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar. It is the feast day of Nicholas of Myra with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts.
A Christmas stocking is an empty sock or sock-shaped bag that is hung on Saint Nicholas Day or Christmas Eve so that Saint Nicholas can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, coins or other small gifts when he arrives. These small items are often referred to as stocking stuffers or stocking fillers. The tradition of the Christmas stocking is thought to originate from the life of Saint Nicholas. In some Christmas stories, the contents of the Christmas stocking are the only toys the child receives at Christmas from Santa Claus; in other stories, some presents are also wrapped up in wrapping paper and placed under the Christmas tree. Tradition in Western culture threatens that a child who behaves badly during the year will receive only a piece or pile of coal. Some people even put their Christmas stocking by their bedposts so Santa Claus can fill it by the bed while they sleep.
Noel or Noël has been in use as both a given name and a surname since the 12th century. It has been traditionally given to children born over the Christmas period, and most early baptisms of the name took place in December or early January. The name Noel has been given to both boys and girls on this holiday since the Middle Ages. According to the US Social Security Administration, girls named Noel ranked #587 in popularity in 1987. The diaeresis (¨) can be used over the e and is used when there are two vowels next to one another that should be pronounced as separate syllables instead of a diphthong. It should not be confused with the umlaut, a diacritical mark that represents a change in the pronunciation of the letter. Other nicknames and modern variations for girls named Noel are: Noele, Noeline, Nowell, Noela, Noell, Noella, Noelene, Noelene, Noeleen, and the French specific feminine spelling distinguished by the adding the "le", Noelle.
The observance of Christmas around the world varies by country. The day of Christmas, and in some cases the day before and the day after, are recognized by many national governments and cultures worldwide, including in areas where Christianity is a minority religion. In some non-Christian areas, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration ; in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday.
Ded Moroz is a fictional character similar to Father Christmas and Santa Claus who has his roots in Slavic paganism mythology. The tradition of Ded Moroz is mostly spread in East Slavic countries and is an important part of Russian culture. Although at the beginning of the Soviet era communists banned Ded Moroz he soon became an important part of the Soviet culture. The literal translation is "Grandfather Frost".
The Christkind is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in Austria, Switzerland, southern and western Germany, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, Transylvania, parts of northeastern France, Upper Silesia in Poland, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil, and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. In some parts of Italy, the analogous figure of the Christkind is known as Gesù Bambino, however Santa Claus is the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts. Christkind is called in Portuguese Menino Jesus, in Hungarian Jézuska, in Slovak Ježiško, in Czech Ježíšek, in Latin America Niño Dios or Niño Jesús and in Croatian Isusić or Isusek.
Julemanden can be directly translated to "The Yule-Man" or "The Christmas-man". He is often illustrated as a short, bearded man dressed in gray clothes and a red hat.
Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities and Brazilian-German communities.
Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve or during the early morning hours of Christmas Day. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas, and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.
Père Fouettard is a character who accompanies Saint Nicholas on his rounds during Saint Nicholas Day dispensing lumps of coal and/or beatings to naughty children while St. Nicholas gives gifts to the well behaved. He is known mainly in the far north and eastern regions of France, in the south of Belgium, and in French-speaking Switzerland, although similar characters exist all over Europe. This "Whipping Father" was said to bring a whip with him to spank all of the naughty children who misbehaved.
Mikulás is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas, and a similar figure to Santa Claus. In many cities, Mikulás is getting more conflated with Santa Claus. Still, it is believed that Mikulás arrives to celebrate his day, December 6, and leaves before Christmas. This tradition is also well known in Romania, Slovenia (Miklavž), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Poland (Mikołaj).
In American, Canadian, Irish, and British cultures, a Christmas elf is a diminutive elf that lives with Santa Claus at the North Pole and acts as his helper. Christmas elves are often depicted as green or red clad with large, pointy ears and pointy hats. Santa's elves are often said to make the toys in Santa's workshop and take care of his reindeer, among other tasks.
Santa Claus Is a Stinker or Le père Noël est une ordure is a French comedy play created in 1979 by the troupe Le Splendid and turned into a film directed by Jean-Marie Poiré in 1982.
A number of Midwinter or Christmas traditions in European folklore involve gift-bringers. Mostly involving the figure of a bearded old man, the traditions have mutually influenced one another, and have adopted aspects from Christian hagiography, even before the modern period. In Slavic countries, the figure is mostly Father Frost. In Scandinavia, it is an elf-like figure or tomten who comes at Yule . In Western Europe, the figure was also similar to an elf, developing into Father Christmas in the modern period in Great Britain. In German-speaking Europe and Latin Europe, it became associated with the Christian Saint Nicholas.
Christmas in France is a major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Christian world. Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday in France on December 20, concurring alongside the United States and other countries.
Christmas traditions include a variety of customs, religious practices, rituals, and folklore associated with the celebration of Christmas. Many of these traditions vary by country or region, while others are universal and practiced in a virtually ubiquitous manner across the world.
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