Santa’s Rides Around the World

Posted on December 21, 2022

During the holidays, courier services are hard at work to keep up with the increased delivery demand. But companies like Fleet Couriers aren’t the only people who will be hard at work making important deliveries in the next few days. That’s right, we’re talking about Santa.

In the United States, we’re used to the image that we get from Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas). That poem gave us most of our images of Santa Claus, including his mode of transportation: “a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.” But other countries have their own traditions and images of Santa, and he has different ways of getting around depending on who you ask around the world.


Let’s take a look at how holiday gifts get magically delivered around the world.


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United Kingdom: Father Christmas, and France: Papa Noël

Today, Father Christmas and Santa Claus are more or less interchangeable, but that wasn’t always the case. The Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a depiction of the traditional Father Christmas. How he gets around changes from story to story, but earlier versions of Father Christmas had him riding on a “Yule Goat” rather than being pulled by reindeer. The French version, Papa (or Père) Noël, is very similar to Father Christmas, but he rides a donkey called Gui, which is French for “mistletoe.”


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Netherlands and Belgium: Sinterklaas

If you’re thinking that “Sinterklaas” sounds a lot like “Santa Claus,” that’s because Sinterklaas is a precursor to Santa. Sinterklaas is the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, the 4th-century Greek Christian bishop on whom Santa is based. Sinterklaas is dressed like a bishop and carries a crosier, or bishop’s staff. He delivers presents while riding on his white horse who, according to some stories, can fly and is named Amerigo.


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Italy: La Befana

Italy’s tradition is a bit different from the other countries we’ve looked at here. While they do have a version of Father Christmas called Babbo Natale, there is also another holiday character in Italy called La Befana. She is sometimes called “the Christmas Witch” in English, as her name literally translates to “the hag.” Like the witches we see depicted around Halloween, La Befana wears a black cloak or shawl and flies around on a broomstick. She also delivers candy and gifts (or coal for bad children) by climbing down the chimney.


Fleet Couriers: Courier Services in Massachusetts and New England

While we may not be able to magically make all our deliveries in one night, Fleet Couriers can promise same-day delivery throughout New England.


Contact us at (800) 734-9309 for courier services, medical deliveries, and more!