Santa Claus is coming to town — it’s true! He’s already started his journey, and in just a few hours, Mr. Claus will be tiptoeing around the living rooms of America. He will start chowing down on cookies, and hopefully not drinking enough milk to qualify as the gallon challenge. Oh, and hopefully he’ll leave some presents while he’s at it. But it’s not all about good ol’ sugar cookies and milk around the world. In fact, the snacks left out for our buddy Kris Kringle vary greatly between cultures. Here’s a closer look at what Santa will be snacking on tonight while he’s ho-ho-hopping from house to house.
The World Tour
Australia and the U.K.
Since Father Christmas is already well into his Australian adventure, we’ll start there. In Australia (and in the U.K., too!) children apparently understand the value of a good drink: They leave a glass of sherry for the jolly old man, along with mince pies filled with sweet dried fruit and brandy.
Good thing Santa (aka Christkind) already has a belly full of mince pies and sherry before heading to Germany, where kids leave him personalized letters in place of snacks. If all goes according to plan, in the morning the letters are gone and the kids’ presents can be found the tree. Magic!
In Denmark, Santa (aka Julemanden) is always a bit late to the party. The Danes celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve! His elves, however, are known to stop by. Danish tradition says that the Nisser (elves) live in the attics of homes and play tricks on you if you don't leave food out for them on Christmas — traditionally, that's a bowl of a special rice pudding called risengrød. The pudding is also served for Christmas Eve dinner. One almond is hidden in the dessert, and whoever gets served the almond is said to have good luck for the coming year.
Once arriving in the Netherlands, it’s time for Sinterklass to take a break and give the horses — not reindeer — some love. Dutch children leave carrots, hay, and water (hey, everyone’s gotta stay properly hydrated) for Sinterklass’ horse. In return, the children get hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, chocolate coins, and marzipan.
Now it's time for Père Noël to take a backseat and give his reindeer — errr, actually it’s a donkey here — some treats. On Christmas eve, children fill their shoes with carrots for the Christmas donkey, Gui. Père Noël takes the carrots and leaves small gifts (usually the equivalent of American stocking stuffers) in their place.
It's not quite time to dash away yet — there's always time for a few more mince pies. The Irish serve up the same little snacks as the Brits and Aussies do, but instead of sherry, Santa gets a perfect pint of Guinness. Uhhh hey Santa, are you looking for any helpers?
falsePhoto: Happy Krissy
Kenyan children don’t traditionally leave a snack for Santa Claus. However, some Kenyans enjoy roasted goat for dinner on Christmas Eve, so Santa better move fast if he wants any leftovers from the feast!
The United States
falsePhoto: Katie / Katie at the Kitchen Door
It’s all about milk and cookies in the U.S. Some families go with classic sugar cookies, others opt for something a bit more decadent — chocolate chip or peppermint, perhaps? Expect Santa to take a bite or two of a cookie, a few sips of milk, and leave plenty of presents (and hopefully no coal!) under the tree.
If Santa’s looking for a small refreshment (like, say, a strong cocktail), he could duck into an Argentinean kitchen for some leftover sidra, an alcoholic apple cider used to toast on Christmas eve after the celebratory feast.
So what’s the best Greatist-approved treat to leave for Santa? Here are some healthier treats we think Saint Nick would love.
A Healthier Yule Log Ants on a log, holiday style! Spread 2 sticks of celery with 2 tablespoons almond butter. Top with green and red chocolate candies or raisins.
Protein Cookies We’re big fans of The Protein Bakery, and we think Santa would be too!
Coffee with Milk Hey, if he’s going to travel all night long, we think he’d need a little caffeine boost when hitting the East Coast.
Have a different Christmas eve tradition? Share with us in the comments below or tweet the author directly @ksmorin!