Santa Claus is the name my children call good old Father Christmas, but when I was a little girl in Dublin, I called the red suited toy deliverer “Santy”.
Or maybe that should be spelled “Santee”, I’m not certain.
For weeks before Christmas everyone in Dublin seemed to be interested in what good old St. Nicholas might be bringing in his sack on Christmas night. Everywhere we went, kind folks loved to talk about chimney deliveries on Christmas Eve.
The milk man! The post man! The butcher! Shop assistants! Irish people love to chat, especially with little ones, and at Christmas time their favorite question was:
“What’s Santy bringin’ ya’ for Christmas?”
Another frequent question was:
“Have you been to see Santy yet?”
I have no idea why Father Christmas was usually called Santy when I was growing up in Ireland. On films and American television we heard the term Santa, but in our Irish family the white bearded giver was always Santy.
We seldom even added his last name “Claus”. We were all on first name terms with our beloved Santy.
When I first came to America I remember asking a little girl – “What’s Santy bringing you for Christmas?”
She looked at me strangely, then asked: “Who’s that?”
Until then, I had never really thought about this difference in terminology. And so my American evolution continued when I had to rename Father Christmas and use the more globally accepted term of Santa Claus.
Now that I have kids of my own, I sometimes slip up and say ‘Santy”. They just roll their eyes, and say: “I think you mean Santa, Mom.”
I don’t believe Irish children use the name “Santy” anymore. Popular culture and American influences have changed our naming of Good Old Saint Nick, but in my memories every Christmas Eve, I waited for “Santy”.
Now in Irish or Gaelic the term we use is Daidí na Nollag, which is literally Daddy Christmas, or Father Christmas. But we were English speakers in my home, and therefore we called him “Santy”.
I wonder does the name “Santy” bring back happy memories for any readers of my ramblings.
Truth be told, no matter the name we call him, Santa Claus, Santy, or Daidí na Nollag, he is the same generous guy, who makes his rounds each Christmas night, sharing his love all over the world.
Nollaig Shona Daoibh
Irish American Mom
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