The North American version of Santa Claus is one of many Christmas gift bringers around the world.
St. Nichlas is a patron saint of sailors, as well as children, in a number cities in Europe. In Greece, many males are named for him.
Dutch children believe that St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, sailed from Spain with a Moorish helper and filled their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and woke up to find them filled with nuts and goodies.
Children in Czechoslovakia believed Svaty Mikulas was brought down from heaven on a golden cord by an angel.
When the Dutch sailed to the New World in 1630 a figure of St. Nicholas was at the prow of the ship.
In 1809, American writer, Washington Irving described St. Nicholas as a "chubby little man with a jolly smile".
In 1823, Dr. Clement Moore of New York was credited with writing "A Visit from St. Nicholas", the poem that begins: "Twas the night before Christmas...".
In Germany and Switzerland, the Christ Child, Christkind delivers gifts. In Sweden, Jultomten, bring gifts in his sleigh. In Denmark, Julemanden carries a sack of gifts. English children await Father Christmas as do Christians in Ghana.
In many other countries gifts are said to come from the stars, the heavens, angels or three kings.
Whatever you believe in, all express the same feeling of sharing and giving.