3. Sinterklaas - The Netherlands
Sinterklaas arrives via steamboat from Spain in mid-November. On the evening of December 5th, children leave a shoe in front of the fireplace or the backdoor with a carrot for his magical horse. Presents are scattered around the house with a note saying where to look.
5. Nisse - Norway
No bigger than a horse’s head, the Norwegian Nisse were a group of barn elves. On Christmas Eve, farmers would leave out porridge and beer to thank them for their year of hard work. However, if they farmers weren’t “good” by putting out gifts, the Nisse would cause mischief.
10. Tomte - Sweden
Very similar to the Nisse, the Swedish Tomte was originally a mischievous homestead elf. Over the years, they grew in size and became a singular person instead of a species. Slender and occasionally riding a goat, the Tomte delivers gifts in exchange for porridge.
14. Joulupukki - Finland
Unlike other Santa figures, Finland’s Joulupukki is not sneaky. Instead of coming in the night, he knocks on the door during Christmas Eve celebrations and personally hands out gifts to good children. The other notable difference is his reindeer do not fly since he lives in the local Korvatunturi mountains.
15. Befana - Italy
Befana delivers presents to Italian children on January 5th, or Epiphany Eve. Usually portrayed as an old lady covered in soot from going down chimneys, Befana travels by broomstick leaving presents for good kids and coal for bad ones. Being a good housekeeper, she will sweep the floor of her sooty feet before she leaves.
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