In the United States, Santa is known for his penchant for cookies, so children across the country leave him cookies by the baker’s dozen along with a nice glass of milk to wash it down. This ritual of leaving out cookies and milk for Santa (and sometimes carrots for his reindeer,) has become a tradition in the U.S., but it’s not the standard worldwide. Here’s a guide to Santa’s buffet as he travels across the globe.
Santa starts his Christmas Eve journey with a nice cold beer, courtesy of little kids in Australia. They may also leave some cookies and milk and even a few carrots for the reindeer. But the beer comes first — maybe it’s to keep Santa warm on the long night ahead.
After that beer and his long flight, Santa — or Tomte, a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore traditionally associated with the winter season — might be feeling a little tired. Fortunately, the good children of Sweden leave out a cup of coffee to keep him awake for the rest of his journey.
The next stop on Santa’s buffet is Denmark, where he can find a bowl of risengrod, or rice pudding, waiting for him on Christmas Eve. According to Denmark lore, the magical elves, Nisser and Tomte, will cause mischief if the bowl of risengrod is missing.
The children in the Netherlands leave gifts for Sinterklaas’ horse rather than the big man himself. Kids leave carrots, hay, and water and in exchange are given marzipan, chocolate coins, hot cocoa and mandarin oranges.
In France, children leave out carrots for the reindeer and biscuits for Santa or Père Noël as he is known here. Some children leave these treats in their shoes and in the morning the treats are gone and their shoes have been filled with small toys and trinkets.
By the time Santa gets to the U.K., he’s ready for a proper meal. Fortunately, the kids here leave him mince pie — filled with dried fruit or the more ancient tradition of meat pies. The children also leave him a nip of sherry to chill his weary bones.
This might be the stop that Santa Claus looks forward to most of all. In Ireland, the children treat him to a pint of Guinness and maybe another mince pie or two. Now Jolly Old St.Nick is ready for his leap over the Atlantic.
Kids in Argentina spoil Santa’s reindeer after their long flight from Europe, leaving them hay and water to sustain them through the rest of the night.
In Chile, children leave pan de pascua for Viejo Pascuero, or Old Man Christmas. This special treat is a spongy, rich cake flavored with rum and filled with dried fruits and nuts.