Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, is perhaps the most popular Christmas figure among kids. He is a stout, jolly old fellow with a white beard who wears a red suit. He lives at the North Pole. Santa Claus brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve.
Children write to the Santa telling him what gifts they want for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus gathers all the toys on his sleigh which is driven by a team of reindeer as he rides across the sky. Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer leads the team and is Santa’s favorite.
Santa slips down the chimneys of houses and places the toys in stockings by the beds of children. In some shopping malls or parties for children someone usually dresses up as Santa Claus and gives gifts to the children.
The fictitious character of Santa Claus is based on a real life person Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a kind-hearted but rather shy person who loved helping people.
Once to help a girl in need, he slipped a purse full of gold coins down the chimney which incidentally landed in the girl’s stocking that had been placed by the fire for drying. This is reportedly the beginning of the tradition of placing gifts in stockings.
From the first week of December, people start decorating their houses and yards. Multicolored ribbons, paper and plastic decorations and lights are seen everywhere. The air is filled with excitement and Christmas carols are on everyone’s lips. Most families set up their Christmas trees by mid-December.
Christmas trees are a central aspect of Christmas as most festivities are centered on it. Decorating a Christmas tree is a family affair. Many decorative ornaments are available in the market, though some people prefer to make their own decorations.
The gifts are kept under the tree a night before the big day. On the night of 24th December, a Midnight Christian Vigil is held in churches shortly before midnight. It is followed by a Midnight Mass. In some places, the Midnight Mass is held in the early morning on Christmas day.
The rest of the big day is spent exchanging gifts, meeting friends and relatives. The Christmas dinner is the highlight of the day. Turkey and Christmas pudding are the main dishes for many.