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Thread: Why do American kids call Santa Claus "Santa" instead of "Claus" ?

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    Unhappy Why do American kids call Santa Claus "Santa" instead of "Claus" ?



    I often hear in American films or series children exclaiming "Santa !" when they see the old beardy guy. Many adults refer to him as Santa too. That sounds preposterous since Santa Claus is just a Scandinavian deformation of Saint Nicholas, and therefore Santa just means Saint. That's his title. His name is Claus. The Japanese do the same mistake, but at least they have the excuse that it is not part of their culture or language group.
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    Most Americans are protestants, but protestantism doesn't contain any Saints anyway, so the expression is senseless right from the beginning. I guess it's just a remnant of a past time long ago, and Americans of today don't know what they are talking about when they call Santa Claus "Santa".
    Next question would be why they celebrate Halloween?

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    I grew up calling him Santa, as far as I'm aware most folk in the UK do the same.
    Most native English speakers have zero tolerance for learning other languages, they simply haven't made or are aware of the santa meaning. Its like Italian coffee names in English sound upmarket exotic names but in fact are completely mundane in Italian.

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    Yes, we called him Santa in Australia too, and kids still do there. It is plain ignorance as MM and Edao have already said, other languages just don't enter into the pshyche of the English speaking world. In Greece he is called Agios Vasili (Saint Basil) and he brings presents on New Years Eve, not at Xmas. Everyone who borrows traditions from others will adapt them to fit with their own customs.

    Halloween is an old Scottish tradition, All Hallows Even (Evening) which is apparently linked to the old Irish/Celtish festival of Samhain, meaning summer's end. It was felt that at this time of year the physical and supernatural worlds were at their closest, and magical things could happen. The tradition was carried by immigrants to the US and over time has become somewhat barstardised (and completely commercialised) from the original Scottish celebrations, and now the US commercial version of Halloween has been carried back to the UK. The circle turns full, I suppose.

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    Another "incorrect" name for Santa Claus in North America is "Kris Kringle." That name is derived from the German "Christkind," of course meaning "Christ-child," who traditionally filled the role of Santa in certain German-speaking areas. And yet in America, the name is given to Santa!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Most Americans are protestants, but protestantism doesn't contain any Saints anyway, so the expression is senseless right from the beginning.
    But Lutherans (and Anglicans/Episcopalians for that matter) do keep a calendar of the saints, and those in denominations that reject keeping a calendar of saints (like Baptists) at least usually know what saints are. IIRC Santa Claus was imported to America primarily by Lutherans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkey View Post
    Another "incorrect" name for Santa Claus in North America is "Kris Kringle." That name is derived from the German "Christkind," of course meaning "Christ-child," who traditionally filled the role of Santa in certain German-speaking areas. And yet in America, the name is given to Santa!

    But Lutherans (and Anglicans/Episcopalians for that matter) do keep a calendar of the saints, and those in denominations that reject keeping a calendar of saints (like Baptists) at least usually know what saints are. IIRC Santa Claus was imported to America primarily by Lutherans.
    Oh, ok I didn't know that! I was raised Lutheran Protestant (here Lutheran Protestants refer to themselves as "Evangelical"), and there is nothing such as a calendar or general worship of saints, it's always regarded as Catholic.
    Also I grew up with "Christkind", as my mother came from Saxony where the Christmas Child came instead of Father Christmas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Oh, ok I didn't know that! I was raised Lutheran Protestant (here Lutheran Protestants refer to themselves as "Evangelical"), and there is nothing such as a calendar or general worship of saints, it's always regarded as Catholic.
    Yeah, it's more of a Scandinavian thing IIRC. The two largest Lutheran denominations in America keep one. They have some interesting "saints" like John Wesley and Harriet Tubman.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Also I grew up with "Christkind", as my mother came from Saxony where the Christmas Child came instead of Father Christmas.
    Which do you prefer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkey View Post
    Yeah, it's more of a Scandinavian thing IIRC. The two largest Lutheran denominations in America keep one. They have some interesting "saints" like John Wesley and Harriet Tubman.
    Oh wew, that's really new to me. Thanks for sharing! I've looked it up again and it seems that the German Lutheran Church is one of the few exceptions without having saints (perhaps alongside with Scandinavia).

    Which do you prefer?
    I don't believe in either or!
    But today Christkind is getting more and more forgotten as the media only shows Santa Claus. In fact, I seem to belong to the last generation which was raised with Christkind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by edao View Post
    I grew up calling him Santa, as far as I'm aware most folk in the UK do the same.
    Most native English speakers have zero tolerance for learning other languages, they simply haven't made or are aware of the santa meaning.
    The word Santa looks very similar to Saint. It doesn't take a genius to see that they are related. Besides, Americans have plenty of Spanish place names with Santa in it (Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, etc.). Britons are usually familiar with Spain, Portugal and Italy, which are all top holiday destinations. I am sorry but there is just no good excuse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Most Americans are protestants, but protestantism doesn't contain any Saints anyway, so the expression is senseless right from the beginning. I guess it's just a remnant of a past time long ago, and Americans of today don't know what they are talking about when they call Santa Claus "Santa".
    Are you saying that being Protestant means that they have no idea what the word saint means ? It's like saying they don't know what the word rabbi means because they are not Jewish.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Are you saying that being Protestant means that they have no idea what the word saint means ? It's like saying they don't know what the word rabbi means because they are not Jewish.
    No, I simply say it doesn't make sense to call someone a saint when you actually don't believe in saints.
    Back to the first question, they call him "Santa" because "Santa Claus" is too long and for simplification it's handled like a forename and surname!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    No, I simply say it doesn't make sense to call someone a saint when you actually don't believe in saints.
    Back to the first question, they call him "Santa" because "Santa Claus" is too long and for simplification it's handled like a forename and surname!
    I am a strong atheist, so I obviously don't believe in saints and don't even like Santa Claus because of its Christian association. Yet it bothers me when I hear people call the guy Santa because it's linguistically wrong and is just a sign of ignorance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I am a strong atheist, so I obviously don't believe in saints and don't even like Santa Claus because of its Christian association. Yet it bothers me when I hear people call the guy Santa because it's linguistically wrong and is just a sign of ignorance.
    Err, when I wrote "you" I used it as a general form of address...
    It was not directed at you personally!

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    I guess that a religious person may feel offended when he hears "Santa" to name a marketing product that has nothing to do with true Saints. In USA even sacred things are desacralised and put in the market just like a sack of potatoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franco View Post
    In USA even sacred things are desacralised and put in the market just like a sack of potatoes.
    Just how I like them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franco View Post
    I guess that a religious person may feel offended when he hears "Santa" to name a marketing product that has nothing to do with true Saints. In USA even sacred things are desacralised and put in the market just like a sack of potatoes.
    That is only assuming that the English speaking world even know that Santa means Saint. But they honestly have no idea what the word means, and wouldn't care even if they were told. To them Santa is and has always been the jolly fat man who wears red pyjamas, nothing more and nothing less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franco View Post
    I guess that a religious person may feel offended when he hears "Santa" to name a marketing product that has nothing to do with true Saints. In USA even sacred things are desacralised and put in the market just like a sack of potatoes.
    But Santa Claus is a true (Catholic & Orthodox) saint. He is just a slightly modified* Nordic version of Saint Nicholas, a historic 4th-century Greek Bishop of Myra (in modern Turkey), and the patron saint of children.

    * they got rid of the symbols of the catholic church, like the bishop attire and the crosier.

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    There is a vague awareness that Santa Claus is St Nicholas, or at least there was when I grew up. But I had a Catholic education and maybe that is where my knowledge of St Nicholas came from, I cannot remember and cannot say what other religions taught children.

    Anyway, I think that any association between Santa Claus and St Nick died a long time ago in the English speaking world, and has been completely dominated by the commercial version of Santa. Religion (for the majority) doesn't really come into the equation at all now, except in the knowledge that Christmas is the day that the birth of Jesus is celebrated. Although it is probably debatable exactly how many would even know that much, in the US I think they would know but in England or Australia? Not many.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antigone View Post
    There is a vague awareness that Santa Claus is St Nicholas, or at least there was when I grew up. But I had a Catholic education and maybe that is where my knowledge of St Nicholas came from, I cannot remember and cannot say what other religions taught children.

    Anyway, I think that any association between Santa Claus and St Nick died a long time ago in the English speaking world, and has been completely dominated by the commercial version of Santa. Religion (for the majority) doesn't really come into the equation at all now, except in the knowledge that Christmas is the day that the birth of Jesus is celebrated. Although it is probably debatable exactly how many would even know that much, in the US I think they would know but in England or Australia? Not many.
    I assumed that British (and Australian) people of Anglican or Catholic background would know about St Nicholas since Anglicans also have (basically the same) saints as Catholics.

    About half the Australians have at least partial Irish ancestry, but the Irish seem to be the only European Catholics that don't celebrate St Nicholas' Day. Even Orthodox in the Balkans celebrate it. Australia also has plenty of Southwest German (the wine makers), Italian and Greek immigrants who all should know about St Nicholas.

    One may not believe in saints or all that Xmas crap, but contrarily to most Christian dogma/fairy tales, saints were real, living people who were beatificated by a pope. So St Nicholas/Saint Nicolas/San Nicola/Sankt Nikolaus/Santa Claus or whatever his name was a historical person, a citizen of the Roman Empire.

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    Santa sounds better than Claus anyway :P

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    I am comforted by Maciamo's hair-splitting on this issue, as I do this myself quite a great deal. But I think also that Franco has a good point in his post on the topic.

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    I think people are just lazy to say the whole name. We tend to shorten many of the words out there when we are talking casually, like veges instead of vegetables, bye instead of Good Bye, mum instead of mother and the list goes on...



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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I assumed that British (and Australian) people of Anglican or Catholic background would know about St Nicholas since Anglicans also have (basically the same) saints as Catholics.

    About half the Australians have at least partial Irish ancestry, but the Irish seem to be the only European Catholics that don't celebrate St Nicholas' Day. Even Orthodox in the Balkans celebrate it. Australia also has plenty of Southwest German (the wine makers), Italian and Greek immigrants who all should know about St Nicholas.

    One may not believe in saints or all that Xmas crap, but contrarily to most Christian dogma/fairy tales, saints were real, living people who were beatificated by a pope. So St Nicholas/Saint Nicolas/San Nicola/Sankt Nikolaus/Santa Claus or whatever his name was a historical person, a citizen of the Roman Empire.
    Well I had a funny experience last year for Xmas, I said Santa Claus to a little girl, she didn't understand me looked at me all funny, until her granddad said Pere Noel, then it reminded me that was why she didn't understand!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    Well I had a funny experience last year for Xmas, I said Santa Claus to a little girl, she didn't understand me looked at me all funny, until her granddad said Pere Noel, then it reminded me that was why she didn't understand!!!
    I confirm that French-speaking children have no idea who or what Santa Claus is (unless they are clever enough to guess a linguistic connection with Saint Nicolas, but it's unlikely unless they are from Alsace and speak German too).

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    In spain we call him "Papá Noel". But i know the santa thing too, probably because we usually watch a lot of american films about christmas. lol

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