Holiday characters are part of our specific holiday celebrations. They originate from mythology, folk stories or contemporary pop culture. Santa Claus, a Christmas holiday character, first appeared in central European folklore as the character of Saint Nicholas. He is the patron saint of children, and was said to bring gifts to well behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve. Other holiday characters are not so friendly. They include the Krampus, a horned, half-demon half-goat creature, who also appears at Christmas time, but instead punishes the children who have not been well behaved.

Where do holiday characters come from?

The holiday characters that we know today were created decades ago from different stories and legends, but have transformed into their current versions through advertising and popular culture. For example, Santa Claus also known as Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, or Father Christmas depending where you live has existed for centuries. The modern appearance and behavior of this holiday character have been shaped by advertising.

Which holidays are the most popular around the world?

One of the most popular holidays celebrated around the world is New Year’s Eve as it is one of the oldest holidays. Other popular holidays are Christmas which is celebrated by millions around the world, Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha celebrated by Muslims to honor the prophet Abraham. Valentine’s Day, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Easter, Basant, and Spring Bank are other very celebrated holidays around the world.

Why are children often afraid of Santa Claus?

Children are often afraid of Santa Claus for a number of reasons like his appearance, noisy environment, and the expectation of behaving well. The fear of Santa Claus can also be related to the fear of clowns as they both have a fixed expression that is seen as unreliable. Meeting Santa is overwhelming as he symbolizes hope and the Christmas celebrations. Once children are over the age of 4 they typically overcome their fear.

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Holiday Characters

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Santa’s Elves | Christmas Elves

The Christmas Elves live in the North Pole. They oversee and manage the Christmas factory, making toys and preparing for Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, the elves help Santa load the sleigh with presents for every girl and boy (the ones who celebrate Christmas), and make sure Santa knows his delivery route. They are extremely efficient and good at their job. Christmas Elves are known for the tiny stature, colourful green and red clothes, and their toy making abilities. They love the snow and eating sugary treats.

Santa’s Elves, or Christmas Elves, are a maximum of 3’ (91.5 cm) tall.

Set of illustrations of Santa’s Elves (Christmas Elves) in various poses measured with overall height
The Christmas Elves live in the North Pole. They oversee and manage the Christmas factory, making toys and preparing for Christmas. They are extremely efficient and good at their job. Christmas Elves are known for the tiny stature, colourful green and red clothes, and their toy making abilities.

Santa’s Elves, or Christmas Elves, are a maximum of 3’ (91.5 cm) tall.

Set of illustrations of Santa’s Elves (Christmas Elves) in various poses measured with overall height
Santa’s Elves | Christmas Elves
Height:
3’ | 91.5 cm (max)
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Writer: Louisa May Alcott

Actor
First Appearance
1850 (Christmas Elves)

Drawings include:
Santa’s Elves | Christmas Elves front (boy), front (girl), side (girl), side sitting (boy), side sitting (girl)

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Santa Claus

Santa Claus is also known as Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas. He lives in the North Pole with his wife Mrs. Claus. He has a large workforce, the Christmas Elves, who help to make gifts and prepare for their busiest night of the year, Christmas Eve.  On this night, Santa loads up his sleigh, and flies around the world delivering presents to every child (the ones who celebrate Christmas). The sleigh is pulled by his twelve reindeer, led by Rudolph and his bright red nose, which lights up the night sky. Santa Claus is a very jolly man who enjoys a mince pie and a glass of sherry (UK) or cookies and milk (US).

Santa Claus varies in height, but is commonly depicted as 6’ (1.83 m) tall. In the 1837 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore, Saint Nicholas is described as a 'jolly elf' with small features that may imply that he is actually the size of an elf instead of an adult man.

Series of elevation drawings of Santa Claus in multiple poses and measured with overall height
Santa Claus is also known as Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas. He lives in the North Pole with his wife Mrs. Claus. On Christmas Eve night, Santa loads up his sleigh, and flies around the world delivering presents to every child (the ones who celebrate Christmas).

Santa Claus varies in height, but is commonly depicted as 6’ (1.83 m) tall. In the 1837 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore, Saint Nicholas is described as a 'jolly elf' with small features that may imply that he is actually the size of an elf instead of an adult man.

Series of elevation drawings of Santa Claus in multiple poses and measured with overall height
Santa Claus
Height:
6’ | 1.83 m (varies)
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Other Names: Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Santa

Actor
First Appearance
1823 (A Visit from St Nicholas)

Drawings include:
Santa Claus front, front (waving), side, side (bag), front (presents), side (reaching)

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The Grinch

The Grinch lives on the top of Mount Crumpit, which overlooks the town of Whoville. His only friend is his dog Max. The Grinch is a bitter, grumpy creature who hates Christmas. He doesn’t have much love to give because his heart is two sizes too small. One Christmas he decides to steal every Christmas present and Christmas decoration from Whoville, in the hope that it will destroy Christmas day. However, with the help of tiny Who Cindy Lou, The Grinch realises Christmas isn’t actually about presents, but about love, family and friendship.

The Grinch, portrayed by Jim Carrey, is 6’2” (1.88 m) tall.

Series of elevation drawings of The Grinch in multiple poses and measured with overall height
The Grinch lives on the top of Mount Crumpit, which overlooks the town of Whoville. His only friend is his dog Max. The Grinch is a bitter, grumpy creature who hates Christmas. He doesn’t have much love to give because his heart is two sizes too small. One Christmas he decides to steal Christmas.

The Grinch, portrayed by Jim Carrey, is 6’2” (1.88 m) tall.

Series of elevation drawings of The Grinch in multiple poses and measured with overall height
The Grinch
Height:
6’2” | 1.88 m
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Writer: Dr. Seuss

Actor
Jim Carrey
First Appearance
1957 (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)

Drawings include:
The Grinch front, side (sneaking), side (Max)

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Santa’s Sleigh

Santa’s Sleigh is Santa’s most important piece of equipment. In the run up to Christmas, Santa’s elves help load the sleigh with presents for every boy and girl in the world (the ones who celebrate Christmas), making sure they are secure and in the correct order for delivery. They rein up Santa’s twelve magical reindeer to pull the sleigh, so on Christmas Eve night, Santa can ride the sleigh into the sky. The sleigh is led by the reindeer Rudolph, who has a bright red nose that lights up their way.

Santa’s Sleigh is 6’ (1.83 m) tall with an overall length of 28’8” (8.75 m).

Collection of drawings of Santa's Sleigh measured with overall height and length
Santa’s Sleigh is Santa’s most important piece of equipment. In the run up to Christmas, Santa’s elves help load the sleigh with presents for every boy and girl in the world (the ones who celebrate Christmas). They rein up Santa’s twelve magical reindeer to pull the sleigh through the sky.

Santa’s Sleigh is 6’ (1.83 m) tall with an overall length of 28’8” (8.75 m).

Collection of drawings of Santa's Sleigh measured with overall height and length
Santa’s Sleigh
Height:
6’ | 1.83 m
Width:
Length:
28’8” | 8.75 m
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Area:

Writer: Clement Clarke Moore

Actor
First Appearance
1823 (A Visit from St Nicholas)

Drawings include:
Santa’s Sleigh side (flying)

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Buddy the Elf

Buddy the Elf grew up in the North Pole. He knows he is different from the other elves – he is much taller and doesn’t have the same speedy working abilities. But Buddy loves Christmas more than anything. He loves Christmas lights, and Christmas songs, and Christmas food and Christmas presents. He loves the joy that everyone feels around Christmas time. Buddy is extremely talented at creating Christmas decorations, wrapping Christmas presents, and making toys. His favorite food is maple syrup.

Buddy the Elf, portrayed by Will Ferrell, is 6’3” (1.91 m) tall.

Set of illustrations of Buddy the Elf in various poses measured with overall height
Buddy the Elf grew up in the North Pole. He knows he is different from the other elves – he is much taller and doesn’t have the same speedy working abilities. But Buddy loves Christmas more than anything. He loves the joy that everyone feels around Christmas time. His favorite food is maple syrup.

Buddy the Elf, portrayed by Will Ferrell, is 6’3” (1.91 m) tall.

Set of illustrations of Buddy the Elf in various poses measured with overall height
Buddy the Elf
Height:
6’3” | 1.91 m
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Actor
Will Ferrell
First Appearance
2003 (Elf)

Drawings include:
Buddy the Elf front, side, side (walking), side (waving)

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