Every year on Dec. 24, millions of American children race to complete the perfect plate of cookies suitable for presenting to Santa Claus later that evening when he comes to deliver presents. In the United States, Santa has practically become synonymous with the late-night snack, especially when accompanied by the cookie’s favorite beverage — a glass of cold milk. Though we Americans may be inclined to believe that Santa’s jolly belly comes from these late-night indulgences, the dessert isn’t the only treat Santa is met with on his global delivery route on Christmas Eve.
As various cultures have their own means of celebrating the holiday, it’s only fitting that children in every Christmas-celebrating country leave out different treats for Father Christmas and all his helpers. From Danish children leaving out rice pudding for Santa’s elves to Argentinian kids taking care of the reindeer with bushels of hay and bowls of water, the whole world comes together to make sure everyone on Santa’s team is well taken care of. Some countries even take things a step further — leaving something to take the edge off the stress of delivering everyone’s presents on time.
From a cold beer left for Santa Down Under to a pint of Guinness greeting him in Ireland, here are the countries that leave out booze for Santa on Christmas Eve.
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Australia: Cold Beer
In the summer heat, it’s tough to think of something less appetizing than a cup of milk. That’s why down in the Southern Hemisphere, Aussies leave an ice-cold, refreshing beer for Santa to enjoy after his descent down the chimney. A beer-cookie pairing may sound unappetizing, but don’t knock it until you try it.
Ireland: A Pint of Guinness
In a country where the average person drinks the equivalent of 436 pints of beer every year, it’s only fitting that families in Ireland have adopted the custom of leaving out a pint of Guinness — Ireland’s favorite beer — for ol’ Saint Nick. It is also tradition when celebrating an Irish Christmas to accompany the pint with a bit of mince pie — a savory treat filled with mincemeat, fruit, and baking spices — and a carrot to help energize Rudolph on his global journey.
The United Kingdom: Sherry
In the United Kingdom, it’s commonplace for children to leave out a mince pie and a small glass of sherry for Santa to enjoy before he heads off to the next house. In the U.K., Santa is so synonymous with the fortified wine that the country’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association launched a “Save Santa’s Sherry” campaign in 2016, when Britain’s sherry sales hit their lowest point since 2005. Turns out, Santa’s favorite beverage might not be as popular among the general public.
Norway: Juleøl, a.k.a. Christmas Beer
Many centuries before Christians made their way to Norway, the region was ruled by Vikings, and many Pagan traditions have become entwined with modern-day Christmas celebrations. Among them is the brewing of an annual “Juleøl,” or Christmas beer — typically mildly sweet dark ales or lagers with slightly spicy aftertastes.
Beer brewing in the winter months was an important part of Viking culture, with winter beers used as celebratory libations during “Jul” celebrations — a Norwegian word referring to the Christmas season. When Christianity began to spread across the region in the 900s, King Haakon the Good sought to preserve the Pagan tradition by making it illegal to celebrate Christmas without beer — any individuals found not serving beer at their Christmas feasts were fined. Today, while not mandated by the government, myriad Norwegian breweries still participate in the tradition, and many children leave a jug out for Santa when he comes to drop off their presents.