Santa myth from Lapland

24/07/2020

"Who is Santa Claus and where does he come from?" 

Who is Santa Claus and where does he come from? In Finnish beliefs he comes from a Lapland mountain called "Korvatunturi", which would be called "ear fell" in English words. The place where Santa and his little helpers make the presents, is located by the Arctic Circle, in Rovaniemi nowadays. In Finland, his name is "joulupukki", which means "Christmas goat"

"the only present from Santa will be wooden sticks"

Christmas eve is the day, when Santa is expected for a visit. He comes from the front door and often announces the arrival with a good knock with his walking stick. He has a classic phrase "Are there any well-behaved children here?". After all, the elves have been spying on the kids for a whole year to make a list of the good and bad ones. Children are often told, that if they don't behave themselves, the only present from Santa will be wooden sticks.

It is a tradition to sing a song to the old man, maybe even his favorite  -"Joulupukki". He might tell a story about how long the journey from Korvatunturi has been and how he likes to travel. The reindeer pull his sleigh on the snowy grounds and they are led by Rudolf (Petteri in Finnish) of course. At that point he has been on the road for a day. The age of Santa is also a common topic. Sometimes he does not even remember it, but it certainly is several hundred years.

"they are afraid of him"

Little children can't wait for Santa, but almost with no exception, they are afraid of him too. The bravest of the kids might help the old man to pass the presents or maybe even sit on his lap, but the presence of Santa is often too exciting. It might be something to do with the outfit, but the character has scarier history too

"a goat-like outfit"

The classic red outfit has been used in Finland for a long time, but it used to be different. The costume used to be goat-like. There were antlers and a fur coat upside down. There was alcohol involved and he was often drunk. This Santa might have intentionally intimidated the children, like they were not afraid enough to begin with. Throughout history, the character has been many things from a beggar to this nice gift bringing old man he is today. 

In Northern Lapland, Santa sometimes still dresses in a fur coat and more traditional outfit, not the red one. We can offer him a food or a drink when he visits, but he often has eaten too much already and politely refuses. Since he visits during the day, we don't leave any treats out for him, or socks for presents or such. Although sometimes he visits while you are on the move and leaves the presents behind. The traditional place for the gifts is under the Christmas tree.

"no one can actually prove Santa does not exist"

There are similarities and differences in the Santa myths for sure. Everyone has their own traditions. What is funny, is that no one can actually prove Santa does not exist, am I right?

LaplandU Girl

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