There are many legends about Santa Claus, but few know the origin of these legends.
Today’s Santa Claus tradition dates back to the III. century. Born about 275 after Christ, Patras was born in Asia and he later became the Bishop of Myra in the Roman province of Lycia. He dedicated his whole life to helping the poor and the children and on the eve of his name-day, he surprised the children with sweets and food. After his death he was ordained as a saint, so we remember him as Saint Nicholas.
In Hungary, we celebrate Santa Claus on December 6th, as it has been since the end of the 19th century.
While Santa Claus is carrying the gift at Christmas in America and in many countries of Western Europe; in Hungary, Mikulás, the Hungarian version of Santa Claus, arrives on the of the 5th of December.
Mikulás brings gifts for those who’ve behaved well during the year but children must clean and polish their boots the night before, placing them on the windowsill. For those who’ve misbehaved Mikulás’ helper, Krampus (a mean elf) will instead bring virgács (a small broom, made with twigs or branches from a bush or willow tree, often painted gold).
According to the legends, the real Santa Claus named as Joulupukki lives in Lapland, Northern Finland and his house is located in the Arctic where he is spending most of the year with elves and making surprises at his own toy factory. Children’s letters arrive there and he greets visiting children 365 days a year.
In December, he takes out his sleigh, puts on presents, pulls reindeer, and doesn’t stop at the house of good little kids.
In Debrecen, you can meet Joulupukki, the “real” Finnish Santa Claus, at 4-4:20 PM on 5th December on Kossuth Square.