9 treats kids around the world leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve
Everything from cookies to rice pudding will be served up to Santa
Santa Claus is coming to town, and he'll be clocking up some serious mileage as he travels to each household around the world. As tradition dictates it's up to all the nice children (and parents) to provide him and his reindeers with snacks and refreshments along the way.
Sweet treats and warming drinks for the man in the red suit, also known as: Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and Papa Noel change dramatically from place to place. Santa will enjoy chocolate cookies and milk in America, in Denmark he'll be served a bowl of Risengrød (rice pudding made with added butter, sugar, cinnamon and fruit), while words of thanks are on the menu in Germany — maybe the children there feel the big guy is plump enough!
What will children in different countries around the world be offering up? Luckily it doesn't seem Santa is sugar or gluten intolerant just yet.
Pan de Pascua — Chile
The name of this Christmas cake can be confusing, because the word "Pascua" means both Easter and Christmas in Spanish, but it is a traditional festive treat for Santa Claus — or Viejo Pascuero as he’s called in Chile.
Pan de Pascua evolved as a hybrid of Germany's stollen, and Italy's panettone and it's a rich, dense spiced cake, flavoured with rum (or pisco) and filled with candied ginger, dried fruits and nuts. Enough carbs and sugar to keep Santa buzzing around the Southern Hemisphere all night!
It's usually served at Christmas — not just to Santa — with a spiced alcoholic coffee concoction called cola de mono (tail of a monkey), another Chilean holiday tradition.
Mince pies and sherry — UK
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Mince pies are a delicious dessert that originate in the UK. They are now as synonymous with Christmas as Wham!, mistletoe and Father Christmas himself. The best versions consist of melt-in-your-mouth pastry, filled with fruity spiced "mince meat" and dusted with icing sugar.
And no Americans, not that kind of mince...!
Children up and down the British Isles will be leaving out a mince pie for Santa Claus along with a small glass of warming sherry or milk. Rudolph and his chums will get a carrot or two.
Mixing hot mince meat into either vanilla ice cream or porridge makes for an indulgent festive spin on breakfast or dessert.
Coffee — Sweden
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Everyone needs a caffeine fix at Christmas. It's a busy time after all, and Santa Claus is no different. In Sweden he is known simply as ”Tomte”, and visits houses in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, when the main festivities take place.
Many families ask an adult member of the family or friend to dress up as Tomte and knock on the door to hand out the gifts to the children. After that is done, he will bid farewell, and later, the adult joins the group again, after having ‘bought the newspaper’ outside somewhere.
Meanwhile the young children will get him some coffee ready and maybe some rice pudding to give Santa a fresh jolt of jolliness to get him home to Lapland.
Carrots and biscuits — France
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In France, children leave out carrots for the reindeer and biscuits for Santa, or Papa Noël as he's known there. The treats are usually left in the children's shoes and in the morning they wake up to find the carrots and biscuits have gone and small toys and trinkets are in their place.
The tradition of leaving milk and cookies for Santa is a running joke for French adults, who rarely drink milk and laugh at the idea of a leaving a glass of milk for a grown man. Some even leave him a glass of Calvados or a wine instead to prove this point.
Beer — Australia
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Festivities in Australia are celebrated to a backdrop of sunshine soaked beaches and blue skies. It might not come as a huge surprise, then, that here it’s customary to leave Santa a cold beer.
Cookies might also be offered, as well as carrots for the reindeer, but the beer is often the number one priority, so Santa can kick back and relax before facing colder climes.
We only hope it's the low alcohol-free kind for the sake of his reindeers and our presents!
Risengrød — Denmark
In Denmark, Santa's mischievous elves, or nisser, are said to take up residence in the attic of homes to keep an eye on children in the run up to Christmas. The elves always expect to find a bowl of Christmas rice pudding waiting for them on Christmas Eve.
The pudding, called risengrød, is made with sugar, cinnamon, and milk, and it’s also part of Christmas Eve dinner for families in Denmark. Forget to leave it out, and the elves get very angry and take it as their cue to play cheeky tricks on the household.
Letters — Germany
Santa gets a break from the sweet stuff in Germany where children leave out letters of thanks to Santa or Weihnachtsmann, as he's called in Germany.
They will write a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve (sometimes even earlier) and decorate the letters with coloured ink and sugar crystals so they sparkle in the night. On Christmas morning, they wake up to find the letters have gone and have been replaced with gifts.
Mince pies and Guinness — Ireland
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Continuing a boozey-theme led by the Australians — Irish families leave out a pint of Guinness for Santa to help wash down a hot mince pie or a bowl of Christmas pudding.
The essential item, however, is a well-poured thick-topped glass of Guinness. If you are worried about Santa's alcohol and sugar intake, don't fret: apparently Guinness only has five calories more than the same amount of skimmed milk and it's packed full of calcium and iron.
Milk and cookies — USA
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The tradition might be hilarious to people in France and the Irish who prefer to offer Santa a stronger beverage, but in America, Santa gets cookies and milk – usually Oreo cookies or classic chocolate chip.
While leaving treats out for Santa is said to date back to ancient Norse mythology, Americans began to sweeten up to the tradition during the Great Depression in the 1930s, as a sign of showing gratitude during a time of struggle. It's as Christmas as the Coca Cola adverts now!