WORLD IN PICTURES

Bringing Christmas joy in their own way

Japan PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan PHOTO: REUTERS
Australia PHOTO: REUTERS
Australia PHOTO: REUTERS
United States PHOTO: REUTERS
United States PHOTO: REUTERS
Mexico PHOTO: REUTERS
Mexico PHOTO: REUTERS
Brazil PHOTO: REUTERS
Brazil PHOTO: REUTERS
Nigeria PHOTO: REUTERS
Nigeria PHOTO: REUTERS

A red suit with white trim and a silky beard have long been Santa Claus' trademark style, but the jolly figure bringing holiday cheer around the world comes in many guises, much like the varied shapes and sizes of the Christmas presents he bears.

From Australia to Brazil to Japan, read what these Santas have to say in this pandemic-struck year.

Japan

Japanese mambo musician Paradise Yamamoto has been a Santa for 23 years.

He wants to reassure children that Santa is still coming to their houses this Christmas.

"I've never heard of a Christmas where Santa Claus didn't appear," said the 58-year-old, who also owns a gyoza restaurant, where he works as a chef. "I might try to get in your houses through a different route from usual, but I will most certainly visit everyone's homes - after, of course, washing my hands, gargling, disinfecting the soles of my shoes, and taking the proper measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."

Australia

"My Christmas message to the world is to be kinder to everyone in a time when we are so isolated," said Oliver Levi-Malouf, 22, who performs as a drag queen Santa at The Imperial Hotel in Sydney, with strikingly red lips and dramatic winged eye make-up.

He puts on a Santa event for youth around Christmas time at the hotel, giving out colourful presents such as a feathered fascinator in the shape of a bird.

United States

"Breathe, simply breathe," advises Mr Dana Friedman, who has been a Santa since wanting to hearten first responders and their families after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

The 61-year-old attorney urges people to take time this year to appreciate the beauty and good in the world.

"While you're at it, do something nice for a total stranger," he said. "But don't let them know you did it... Let them pay it forward in their own way."

Mexico

Children excited to see Santa had better take note of this warning from Mexican actor and director of children's theatre Alejandro Zelayaran.

"I will not visit children who do not respect their mother and father, who have not taken care of themselves during Covid-19 and who have pulled practical jokes on their teachers during virtual classes," he said.

The 43-year-old also emphasises the importance of family. "Faith and hope must move the hearts of humanity," he said.

Brazil

Mr Limachem Cherem, 64, who runs a school for Santas in Rio de Janeiro, will be spending more time in a studio this month, raising children's spirits with recorded messages and live video chats.

He, too, encourages people to reach out to one another. "Get on the phone, send messages, it doesn't cost much with the Internet," said the jovial man with a big beard. "Since we can't hug in person, send a message of peace to a friend. He needs it, while he is at home."

Nigeria

Mr Daniel Edidiong dresses up as Santa Claus for broadcaster Independent Television in Abuja, capital of Nigeria. "I normally use gloves as Father Christmas, but this year, due to Covid-19, I am using rubber gloves, and each time I hand over gifts to children, I will sanitise my hands," said the 36-year-old.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2020, with the headline Bringing Christmas joy in their own way. Subscribe