Monday, December 23, 2013

Map of Christmas Present Giving Entities in Europe and Western Asia

The map of "Who Brings Gift to Europe" is making news on the internet (and I have been unable to track down the source).  However, there are some interesting geographical trends.

Click to enlarge
Scandinavian countries tend to have a pagan or supernatural gift giver vice the Christmas Saint Nicholas-derivative.

Slavic countries tend to have Grandfather Frost.

The map does not mention the Dutch Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) from which the Dutch in New Holland gave the future United States Santa Claus.

Saint Basil beats out Saint Nicholas in Greece(!).

Some form of Father Christmas wins out in Western Europe.

Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, southern Germanic realm (Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, norther Italy), and Hungary have explicitly historical people give out gifts.

Jesus is the gift giver only in the southern Germanic realm and Hungary.

The original Christmas gift givers (the magi) are "still" giving gifts only in Spain (where they give on Three Kings Day and not Christmas).


Dina said...

So interesting, and all on one map!

Merry Christmas, dear blog-friend.
My humble blog is honored by your visits, ahlan wasahlan.

P.P.A. said...

I live in the Rhineland, and I was raised in the belief that on the 6th of December, „Sankt Nikolaus” (St. Nicholas of Myra), draped in a bishop's clothes, would leave little gifts (sweets, fuit, nuts, small presents) in my boots if I clean them and put them in front of my door overnight. He was also accompanied by „Knecht Ruprecht“, his loyal servant, who would punish bad children with his birch.

And it was the „Christkind“ (essentially baby Jesus) who would, on the evening of December 24th, leave presents under the Christmas tree behind closed doors.

Nowadays, probably due to U.S. American cultural influence, St. Nikolaus has become conflated with the Anglo Santa Claus. In popular culture, he has lost his Catholic garments and trademark crosier, and exchanged them for that red Coca-Cola dress.
Santa Claus (or the „Weihnachtsmann“) also superseded the Christkind as the central figure on Christmas Eve.

It might be that the Weihnachtsmann was already an established figure in other regions of Germany, but at least here at the Rhine he is alien.