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