Who brings Christmas gifts in each country
Tradition dictates that gifts are received at Christmas time. Good on the part of the Magi of the East, or by the most international Santa Claus. However, far from our borders and what we know around us, they are not the only figures that give away on these dates.
The Christmas grandfather, the Abuelo de las Nieves, Nino Jesús, San Nicolás, San Basilio or the gnomes are also present in other areas of Europe.
Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus
Actually, Santa claus or santa claus comes from an evolution of Saint Nicholas (in Spanish it is San Nicolás). St nicolas he was a bishop of the Byzantine Empire who was born in Turkey. Legend has it that he left a bag of gold coins in the socks, in a fireplace, of some young sisters who could not marry because they had no money.
It is unknown when this tradition began, although the first stagings were in the Modern age. The Greek Orthodox associated this holiday with San Basilio, on January 1, to Christmas presents. For this reason, in these countries it is Saint Basil who carries the objects.
For its part, the Protestant reform wanted to end Saint Nicholas. For this reason, in most of the countries of central Europe it is the Child Jesus who brings the gifts. Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia bear this figure in mind. Germany too, although the Grandfather of Christmas also has a presence, especially in the north.
Therefore, Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas is kept in the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine. In fact, the Dutch were the ones who extended this figure to the United States, under the figure of Santa Claus.
By imitation, many countries embraced the red-clad, white-bearded man, an image of Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign. Portugal, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland maintain it.
The Magi in Spain, the Witch Befana in Italy and other exceptions
Although the trend is that the presence of Santa Claus or some of his varieties is present throughout Europe, this is not the case in Spain or Italy, where tradition leads to Magi of the East o la Witch Befana, respectively.
In the Gospel of Matthew it is said that the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Child Jesus. In this way, on January 5 the parades are celebrated and on the 6th the adoration of the Child Jesus by the Kings is commemorated in Spain and some countries of South America.
In a similar way and related to the Kings is the character who distributes gifts in Italy, the Witch Befana. Legend has it that the Kings were lost on their journey to Bethlehem and that they asked an old woman for help. She was kind to them, but did not want to accompany them on the way.
Later he repented of this fact and dedicated himself to distributing sweets in all the houses, hoping that in some of them the Child Jesus would be found.
Likewise, Italy and Spain are not the only countries in which the exceptions remain. The Grandfather of the Snows is a character of tradition Russian which is replicated in other countries such as Belarus, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia. It is also collected in Bulgaria and Slovenia, although they share it with Santa Claus.
In northern Europe they maintain other traditions, such as the Christmas goat in Finland, although in practice Santa Claus is celebrated, and in Sweden, Norway and Iceland they are the Gnomes those who deliver the gifts.