Christmas Market in the old town center of Prague

Do you believe in Santa Claus?

Christmas Market in the old town center of Prague
Christmas Market in the old town center of Prague

As we gear up for the benevolent Santa to mine his database of kids’ privacies to deliver ads, umm, gifts to the kids, it is hard to imagine that there are others data miners who are vying for the same gift business TAM.

Deserted Christmas Market
Deserted Christmas Market

However deeply embedded the sleigh-ridden Santa is in our psyche, neither he nor the Christmas tree are as ubiquitous as we in the United States like to think they are.

Rudolph is a rickshaw puller for Santa in Kyoto, Japan
Rudolph is a rickshaw puller for Santa in Kyoto, Japan

In Japan, Santa is rarely seen around Christmas time, but decides that a hand pulled rickshaw, pulled by his red-nosed Rudolph, is a better mode of transportation than the sleigh.

Trdelniks and hot wine bring people together in Prague
Trdelniks and hot wine bring people together in Prague

In the Czech Republic, a baby Jesus is the one who drops by to deliver gifts to anxious kids, which is also the case for Germany and other Germanic nations. Baby Jesus decides to drop by during Christmas dinner, ensuring that the anxious kids never ever consume dinner to their parents’ satisfaction on Christmas eve.

The boisterous crowds at Puerta del Sol, excitedly gathered at even 1 am
The boisterous crowds at Puerta del Sol, excitedly gathered at even 1 am

But it’s the Three Wise Men who visit our Spain, Italy and other Mediterranean countries to shower gifts over kids, which makes the most sense. And instead of the Christmas tree, you tend to display your creativity skills on the Nativity scenes.

The Three Wise Men bring gifts to kids in Spain every year
The Three Wise Men bring gifts to kids in Spain every year

In fact, the temperament of the people comes out quite clearly in the Christmas markets. The markets of Czech, Hungary and Germany are relatively quiet, intimate affairs, while those of Italy and Spain tend to be more boisterous, and family forward.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid bursting with energy
Plaza Mayor in Madrid bursting with energy

While the kids in the US are not satisfied till an iPhone is dropped into their stocking, the kids in Spain seemed quite content with a night out on the local ferris wheel, and a trinket made out of wood and strings by the local artisan.

Minimalist decorations in the Great Market Hall, Budapest
Minimalist decorations in the Great Market Hall, Budapest

Traditions are so diverse that we need an i18n edition to the “Where is Santa?” question in Google Maps.

Christmas tree along the walls of the Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
Christmas tree along the walls of the Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.