Santa Claus Around the World
Every traveler knows that, coming December, it’s necessary to take the red suit out of the closet, including accessories: white beard, buff black boots and a big belt with a golden buckle. That’s because this season is full of parties and celebrations in which gift exchanges and hordes of shopaholics are at its best. But, which are the destinations that hide the secrets behind the origins of this culture of gifts?
Saint Nicholas in Turkey
DINKtravelers traveled to Turkey where they say that a monk called Nicolas lived hundreds of years ago. Since he was famous for his generosity –he travelled across the country helping the poor and sick– he inspired many legends. Therefore, people started celebrating a feast in his honor on his death’s anniversary, on December 6th. If you travel to Europe this year and you want to learn more about his life, don’t forget to visit the city of Demre where you can go to the Church Museum of Saint Nicholas.
Sinterklaas in Holland
Nicolas’ popularity was so great that he continued to have a good reputation, particularly in the Netherlands, where they called him Sinter Klass. So, if you plan to spend these vacations in Amsterdam, on December 5th don’t miss the celebration in which Sinter Klass arrives at the Dutch coast on a steamboat and then rides across the streets on a horse called Amerigo while his helpers throw pepernoten –cookies– to the people.
Santa Claus in New York City
But the tour through the history of this tradition continues in one of the most attractive destinations for luxury shoppers: New York. There, on December 1773, a newspaper reported that a Dutch family had gathered to commemorate the anniversary of Sinter Klass’ passing. The rite became popular and the name Sinter Klass evolved to Santa Claus who, little by little, acquired the physical characteristics that we know today.
In the 19th century the concept of Santa Claus was linked to that of shopping. Proof of this was that in 1841 thousands of people went to a shop in Philadelphia to see, for the first time, a real size Santa model.
As far as the tradition of street Santa goes, it originated when the Salvation Army, in need of extra money to buy food for needy families, had the idea of dressing unemployed men as Santa Claus and sending them to the streets to ask for donations. If you travel to New York this December, you’ll probably find these classic Santas on the streets. However, if you want to find a more glamorous version, from December 1st to the 24th, buy your tickets to have breakfast with him at the Rockefeller Center.