If you have ever wanted to see how other countries celebrate Christmas or how their Santas are represented, look no further than the Santa’s Around the World exhibit in Great Bend, Kansas.
What if we told you that in Downtown Great Bend, Kansas there is a display of 24 multi-cultural Santa’s on display, sharing their Christmas traditions from around the world. This life size Santa’s were created by Great Bend artist Loretta Miller. Originally the Santa’s were set to appear in various downtown retail stores. The Santa’s were donated to the Rosewood Roots and Wings Foundation in order of the St. Nick’s to be maintained. Santa’s Around the World have found a permanent exhibit space at the corner of Main and Larkin and are available to tour throughout the holidays. The 24 lifelike, incredible representations of Santa’s from around the world are:Africa: Father Christmas comes from the jungle to visit Christian families in the African Republic of Ghana.Australia: Aussie Santa wears the traditional clothing of Australian cattlemen. The kangaroos pull Santa’s sleigh. The Joey, as the baby kangaroos are called, lives in the mother’s pouch and helps the mother carry out her Christmas duties.
Brazil: Papai Noel comes from the rain forest and is the traditional bearer of gifts. Some children leave a sock in the window, if Papai Noel finds your sock, he will exchange it for a present. China: Dun Che Lao Ren (Christmas Old Man) comes during the Holy Birth Festival (Sheng Dan Jieh). He fills stockings with gift from his wicker basket. England: The English gift giver is called Father Christmas. He delivers gifts during the night before Christmas. The children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of
the bed. In the morning, they hope it will be full of presents. France: Pere Noel left gifts in wooden shoes left out by good children. His little companion, Pere Fouchette, left switches for the bad children.Germany: Father Christmas, der Weihnachtsmann, comes in the night between December 5 and 6 and puts presents and candies into the shoes of children, who usually place them by their doors. Iceland: The Icelandic folks believe that Jola Sveinar and other characters arrive each day for the 13 days before Christmas and each one bears a little gift for every child in the household.
Italy: La Befana comes down the chimney with gifts and firewood on Epiphany Eve, January 5. She carries a hand bell and waves a cane to warn bad children.
Korea: Sana Haraboji is the Santa represented for this country. Since Christianity took hold in Korea, Christmas has been a growing holiday. It is a little different than in the West because many young people will use Christmas as a day to go out and party and then will spend New Year’s with family, which is just the opposite of many western families. Latin America: Viejito Pascuero is Old Man Christmas and is the central figure in the Latin Christmas celebration.
Lapland Finmark: The people of Lapland (Samis) are nomads who have lived there for thousands of years. Their entire existence is connected to the reindeer herds, which they follow through migrations. Perhaps, this is where myth has placed Santa’s, or Joulupukki, home and has him deliver gifts in a reindeer-drawn sleigh.Lithuania: Father Christmas, or Kaledu Senelis, scatters grain into the corner of honor behind the table (krikstasuolis) and brings gifts for the children. The children are required to earn their gifts by reciting a poem, singing a song, dancing or playing an instrument.Middle East: The Holy Man is an ancient King who bears gifts
Mongolia: Tsai Sen Yeh is the Mongol/Chinese version of St. Nick. He was a Chinese God who showered children with money and gifts each Herdsman’s Day which was celebrated at the end of each year and featured gift exchanging and a rodeo among the nomads.Poland: Star Man visits Polish homes after Christmas Eve supper with small gifts for children.Netherlands: Black Pete has a role in St. Nicholas’ decisions as to what Dutch children receive for Christmas. The naughty children would be taken away by Black Pete or be punished.
Norway: Jules Venn (gift bringer of Norse Mythology) comes during mid-winter festivities of “Jul” to hide lucky barley stalks around the house. Russia: Grandfather Frost travels from house to house bringing gifts on the non-religious holiday of New Years, often appearing in bishop’s robe.Scotland: The Abbot of Unreason was elected at the end of the year festival to lead festivities. Switzerland: Each Christmas, Swiss children receive a visit from Samichlaus who consults his big book of sins (provided by the parents) and asks the children to earn forgiveness by reciting a poem. He provides treats such as tangerines, nuts, and gingerbread. US Contemporary: Contemporary Santa Claus was born in the United States thanks to a myriad of artists, writers, legends, and the evolving nature of our country at the time. It is thought that the name is derived from the Dutch word for St. Nicholas, Sinterklass.American: Santa Claus, which comes from the Dutch Sinterklass was A Christian leader from Myra (modern day Turkey in the 4th century). He was very shy and wanted to give money to the poor people without them knowing about it. He would drop money from the roof which landed in a stocking. This is how the belief of him coming down the chimney came to be.
Our experience at Santa’s Around the World was one of pure fascination and educational. Even though we were aware that not all Santa’s came on Christmas, we were not aware of the variety of such beings around the world. Santa’s Around the World usually opens the evening of the Great Bend Christmas Parade, on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The public can visit this incredible display at 1223 Main Street in Downtown Great Bend from 4-6pm on Thursday’s and Friday’s and 1-6pm on Saturday’s and Sundays. The display is open until December 23 but appointments can be scheduled anytime by calling Rosewood Roots and Wings Foundation Office 620-603-6502. There is no cost to view the Santa’s but donations are welcome.