Have you ever wondered what the language of Santa Claus is? I mean the real Santa Claus, of course. Not your dressed up uncle! Being a figure of impressive magical potential, he might be capable of speaking all of them. Or is he the same as us and speaks just one or a few tongues? What language should you use if you caught him leaving presents under your Christmas tree? As December 25 draws near, it’s the perfect time to clear this out.
The language of Santa Claus
All we have to do is look into Santa’s life. If we know where he was born and lived, we will know what languages he could speak. However, this is not an easy question, because Santa has no biography as such. Instead of that, we know other figures that influenced the image of Santa. Luckily, they give us some more information than Santa alone.
The name of “Santa Claus” derived from the dutch “Sinterklaas” (a similar folklore figure). In turn, “Sinterklaas” derived from “Saint Nikolaos”. Or Nicholas in English. Today he is a famous Christian saint. He and Santa are similar not just in name, but also by deeds. Nicholas was famous for charity and secretly leaving gifts for other people. In his own time, 4th century AD, he was a bishop. He was born in Patara and spent his life in Myra. These two towns were in the region today known as Antalya Province of Turkey. At that time people spoke Koine Greek in there (a predecessor to Modern Greek). Besides that, Latin was lingua franca of the Roman empire. Myra belonged to the Roman world as well. So if the connection is true, one language of Santa Claus could be Latin and another Koine Greek.
Is it just another name for Santa? Not really. In English tradition, Father Christmas was actually a separate figure. He became popular as a symbol of cheer and joy of Christmas in the Victorian era. His image might have come from Henry VIII of England. This king was depicted as a large man in green or scarlet robes lined with fur. The image continued through the centuries and reminds Santa Claus in every aspect other than colour. Maybe Father Christmas was a separate figure. Or maybe he was just Santa in a different coat! In this case, you could speak to him in English and he would understand! Just don’t use the internet slang.
Another figure that seems to be similar to Santa is Wodan. Wodan or Odin is a Germanic god that has many roles and spheres of influence. What’s important to us is that one if his names is Jólnir, meaning Yule figure. Yule is basically the pagan counterpart of Christmas. On top of that, people imagined Odin as an old man in a blue cloak with a white beard. He can ride the sky on his horse Sleipnir much like Santa with his reindeer. He also used to bring gifts to the people he visited. Does that remind anything? Wodan was an important god of old germanic people so he must be fluent in Old Norse and other proto-Germanic languages. If we believe that Santa evolved from this figure, these languages apply to him as well.
So what is the language of Santa Claus? According to the figures that shaped our gift-bringer, he must be versed in multiple languages. From ancient languages such as Old Norse and ancient Greek to Latin and modern English. Old Norse is the basis for all the Scandinavian languages and Latin is closely related to Esperanto and many Romance languages. So it might be possible that Santa learned many modern tongues on the basis of their ancient versions!
Finally, many believe that Santa resides at the North Pole or in Lapland. If he has any encounters with the locals, it is highly possible he knows even more! Maybe a little bit of Northern Sami, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian or maybe even Russian?
So now you know how to check whether it’s real Santa or a fake one. The real Santa is a polyglot! Just ask him if he knows Latin!