Christmas is the name used in many
English-speaking countries for a
symbolic figure associated with
Christmas. A similar figure with the
same name (in other languages)
exists in several other countries,
including France (Père Noël), Spain
(Papá Noel), Catalonia (Pare Noel),
Brazil (Papai Noel), Portugal (Pai
Natal), Italy (Babbo Natale), India
(Christmas Father) and Romania (Moş
Crăciun). In past centuries, the
English Father Christmas was also
known as Old Father Christmas, Sir
Christmas, and Lord Christmas.
Father Christmas is said to wear
(these days) a bright red suit but
in Victorian and Tudor times he wore
a bright green suit.
Christmas typified the spirit of
good cheer at Christmas, but was
neither a gift bringer nor
particularly associated with
children. The pre-modern
representations of the gift-giver
from church history, namely Saint
Nicholas, (Sinterklaas), and
folklore merged with the English,
and later British Isles, character
Father Christmas to create the
character known to Americans as
Santa Claus. Like Santa Claus,
Father Christmas has been identified
with the old belief in Woden (Odin
to the Norse).
English-speaking world, the
character called "Father Christmas"
influenced the development in the
United States of Santa Claus, and in
the United Kingdom and elsewhere,
most people now consider them to be
interchangeable. However, although
"Father Christmas" and "Santa Claus"
have for most practical purposes
been merged, historically the
characters have different origins
and are not identical. Some authors
such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.
Tolkien, have insisted on the
traditional form of Father Christmas
in preference to Santa Claus.