It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Holiday decor and festive food is out in full force in most malls, department stores and even gas stations (mistletoe with your miles card, anyone?) no matter where you live. Even Netflix has released all our holiday favourites right on time.
The interesting thing about the holidays is that many of us have a pretty personal association with Christmas, what it means to us, and how we spend our tradition each year. No matter how you spend it whether it's with family or friends, in a ski chalet or on an all-inclusive resort sipping mojitos, the common connector among us is our yearly encounters with Jolly Saint Nick. In light of this, we thought it would be interesting to investigate on a bit of a broader of a scope and see what Santas look like all around the world! It's like our own little version of who wore it best except for the purpose of this article, the answer is no one. Rather, we've gone to great lengths to locate what would otherwise be classified as Santa #fails. Ahhh, it warms the heart, doesn't it? Keep reading for our top picks for the world's worst Santas!
20 Krampus, Santa Style (Germany)
Germany has potentially the most outrageous holiday interpretation, especially if you have been a particularly naughty child. Krampus is said to be a beast-like creature that accompanies Saint Nick (otherwise known as Santa) and casts away the wicked (yay!) while bringing treats and toys to the good children (double yay!). But then it gets weird.
Appearing with a long tongue, hooves and fangs, he carries a chain, whip or birch stick which he thrashes to intimidate children (it would work on us!). Also sporting a basket on his back to carry naughty children to the underworld.
Despite this popular folklore, the child pictured above seems relatively chill with his decision to pose with this demonic Kris Kringle creature.
19 Spooky Vintage Santa (Origin Unknown)
We're not entirely sure where the origins of this photo were taken as it belongs to a vintage Flickrer by the name of Albert Tanquero. One might assume Eastern Europe, given that it is a donkey, not a reindeer and looks quite chilly.
Regardless, I think it's safe to say that this man does not meet the credentials of a warm and friendly Santa type. Soulless zombie eyes aside, I think anyone who procures a taxidermied donkey for the purposes of taking holiday photos with children should be perhaps questioned further. I hope someone told him not to quit his day job.
18 Grumpy Cat (The Grump Pole)
Perhaps the least qualified to pull off Santa Claus status is viral sensation Grumpy Cat. For starters that permanent scowl is just so un-Santa like! Santa delights in bringing children toys and spreading joy all over the world. Grumpy Cat just spreads cynicism and negativity.
More suited to Grumpy Cat would be the position of Grinch which is an easier, more adaptable role for a cat so grumpy, since the Grinch is known to take his fair share of naps.
Even if Grump Cat were able to feign some form of enthusiasm over the holidays, it would be almost impossible for any children to sit on Grump Cat's lap! We applaud Grumpy Cat's attempt at the Christmas spirit but maybe it's best lived out solely on the internet.
17 Will Ferrell as Punk Santa (NYC)
Will Ferrell can do no wrong when it comes to comedy but when it comes to pulling off the most important role of Christmas his punk rock version falls a little flat. He's quoted being saying in a YouTube clip of his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, "Look, brah, the Kris Kringle we all grew up with is old and lame. Dude looks like someone's weird grandpa."
New gen Santa apparently carries a camo sack and delivers toys with a drone instead of a sleigh and sits on your lap instead of the other way around. It's all just far too creepy to even come close to the original Claus.
16 Winter Wizard Santa (Russia)
We are actually on the fence with this one because it's either so bad it's awesome or so awesome it's bad! I guess our chief complaint is the choice for blue over the cheerier red suit we've all come to love - isn't it cold enough in Russia!? Also, how long does it take him to get in and out of his wizard suit each day? It looks complex!
Are elves being allocated the task of dressing Santa instead of manning the toy factory and double checking Santas list? If dressing Santa in his ultra rad Viking-meets-wizard suit becomes the new focus of Christmas it could mean holiday mayhem.
15 Aquafit Santas (North Pole Community Centre)
Okay, the wellness movement has officially gone too far! 'New year, new me' is not something we want our beloved Santa Claus uttering before Christmas. We love unapologetically jolly Santa. Carrots are for the reindeer for Pete's sake! And we appreciate that it takes a whopping 8 of them to carry him from place to place because he can't (nay won't!) say no to that last plate of warm chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve.
If Santa is struggling with high blood pressure or was told by the North Pole medic that he needs to take up more exercise, than we would hope that he would choose something more suiting like snowshoeing instead of aqua squatting.
14 Colonel Santa-ers (Japan)
Okay with the Colonel being a man of jolly greatness we can understand the confusion here. He has a white goatee, a big belly, is seemingly always happy and also delivers buckets of joy to families usually in the dark of night- they even have similar initials! Sure, it adds up when you put it like that but Colonel Sanders is not and could never be Santa Claus. For one, he left us in the '80s and Santa is living his best life up in the North Pole (duh!).
According to the BBC the confusion actually stems from an incredibly successful advertising campaign that ran in Japan using the words 'Kentucky for Christmas.' Since then, 3.6 million Japanese families have considered it a Christmas tradition.
It's so popular that most will pre-order the KFC Christmas Dinner feast weeks in advance. To them, it seems that the Colonel is Christmas.
13 Liam Neeson? (America)
Don't get us wrong, we love us some Liam! He is just not built to be Santa. He's too fit for starters! And that clean-shaven face? Even the most far-out Santas on our list have made an attempt at a beard of some sort.
Now we know you might be thinking that because he's Liam Neeson he got this role through some kind of nepotism, I mean that's showbiz after all. But the truth is that this was taken from a gag reel on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert so his intention of being a #fail Santa is actually spot on, which then makes Liam a legend in his own right.
12 Sinister Seeming Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa)
Dutch Santa seems to be having his Michael Jackson Thriller moment here and it's not exactly jolly. While we are kind of loving the wizard staff traditionally Sinterklaas rides a white horse and here, he just looks like a spooky priest.
Typically Dutch Santa also has a fleet of Zwarte Piet who are elf-like creatures that help him complete his tasks as he is notoriously absent-minded. They are also the ones who leave presents in a burlap sack for children but instead of the 25th, it is done on December 5th and 6th which are known as Saint Nicholas Eve and Saint Nicholas day respectively.
A hotly debated topic remains whether Sinterklaas was the original inspiration for Santa Claus but judging by this photo we're going to go with no.
11 Hipster Santa (Portland)
What's worse than the glorified hipster culture that is taking over North America as we know it? Hipster Santa Claus! The plaid button-up in lieu of the velvety suit!? Thick rimmed glasses instead of classic gold spectacles? A silvery-white manbun replacing the pompom adorned cap!? It's just too much for our Santa-loving hearts to take!
He probably hands out Starbucks gift cards and ironic t-shirts instead of actual elf-made toys. He probably renamed Rudolph something obscure like Papaya in an attempt to challenge mainstream society's attempt to put Rudolph 'in a box'. He probably changed the naughty/nice list for a list of film noir movies that children have to watch in order to get any treats. Sorry hipster Santa, we're not picking up what you're putting down.
10 Just Bad... Santa (America)
Billy Bob Thornton playing Bad Santa while entertaining, just feels a bit blasphemous to the Santa we know and love. If you haven't seen the movie, it is a tacky comedy where Billy Bob plays a mall Santa con artist who rips off shopping malls each year. On this one particular year, however, he is depressed, grumpy, and usually had a few too many, which affects his ability to pull off the heist. It isn't until he befriends a young boy that he becomes a better person.
This role may be a little too close to comfort for Billy's real-life persona that it just seems a little too close to home. We'd much rather picture our mall Santas as good old-fashioned patriots of Christmas.
9 mischievous Santa (Origin Unknown)
This Santa while coming close to what we hope the real Santa looks like (is that a fur trim and velour?) has all the fixins for being a favourite on the list but we can't help but notice his mischievous posture and pose. Twirling his moustache and gripping his belt tightly like he's just finished scheming up some kind of Christmas catastrophe!
His outfit says Santa, but we're convinced there's more to the story behind those baby blues. Nice try Saint Nicholas... if that is your real name.
8 Pope Like St. Mikulás (Hungary)
Here we have Hungarian Santa who has the jolly bit down pat. It looks like he's about to serve up some delicious eggnog or chocolate milk too which has also earned him some bonus points!
Our main issue with this costume is that it seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. If he wasn't sporting that white curly wig we might even think he's a regular old Bishop, not the man and legend we know as Santa!
Hungarian Santa is also said to have an evil counterpart named Krampusz who delivers onions and other undesirable items to naughty children before potentially taking them to hell. Just another casual Christmas tradition from Eastern Europe!
7 Yule Lads (Iceland)
While not a typical Santa uniform, the tradition of 13 Yule Lads is rooted in Icelandic folklore is as close as it gets. This group is known mostly for their mischievous side of pulling pranks and heists. Think klepto Santa.
The Lad pictured above is Kertasnikir known for his candle stealing but he could easily be confused with a sales associate at Pottery Barn.
The tradition is that children leave shoes on the window sill for the Lads who will leave candy for good boys and girls or rotten potatoes for bad ones. This tradition also involves an evil Christmas Cat that eats anyone not wearing new clothes... this all sounds and looks pretty hipster to us.
6 Babbo Natale (Italy)
Thick beard - check. Red suit - check. New balance trainers - check?
This dude is just way too casual to pull off the duties of Santa (or Babbo Natale as he's called in Italy). We appreciate the attempt but I don't think he'd get past a smell test from the local kids who would realize it's Pasquale the butcher from next door and not the mysterious man who brings presents in the night.
Maybe if he committed by colouring his beard white and trading up the trainers for a nice pair of handmade Italian leather boots he could go from bad to better. There's always next year, Pasquale.
5 Mexican Wrestler Santa (NYC)
Maybe we're just old-fashioned but we happen to think that these are two independently awesome costumes that should not be blended together for the sake of it. We think it would be confusing to children to explain that this particular Santa also has a penchant for anonymous acrobatics that involves flipping and pinning their opponents to the ground versus flying through the sky on a sleigh.
Sure, he gets bonus points for creativity and committing to the role both with posture and assorted props, but on the Santa scale of authenticity, he is seemingly missing the margarita.
4 Weird beard Santa (Origin Unknown)
We get it, not everyone has the big budget to pull off an authentic Santa suit! In its truest form, it is a thing of decadence. To be clear we are not here to shame budget-conscious Santa suits. The main reason this man has made the list is for his poor choice of beard. What is it? A paper bag? Gauze from the First Aid kit? A small pillowcase?
The small slit for his mouth just makes it look like he's about to complete a holiday heist versus bringing the Christmas spirit to a classroom of kids. We are genuinely frightened from the neck up. Even cotton balls glued to his face would have been less suspect than this sheath of shame masquerading as Santa's beard.
3 Wrestler John Cena (Washington D.C.)
Probably not who Santa himself would choose to carry on his legacy but we are starting to see a theme among wrestlers turned Claus hopefuls. To John's credit, he appeared in the ring as a tribute to the troops which is quite commendable. His suit isn't too shabby either although we would appreciate that anyone donning the sacred suit to remain in character at all times. This means that his beard should be fastened tightly to his face and not around his neck!
While tussling would likely fall on the naughty list, we can see his intentions here belong on the nice list.
2 Zanta (Toronto)
If you live in Toronto then you know about Zanta. For the rest of the world, he is a street artist who regularly appears half clad in Santa gear through streets of Toronto doing pushups. He does this every single day of the year except (ironically) on Christmas and claims to do up to 3,000 pushups yearly. However, it's not all fun and games as Zanta (real name David Zancai) has been banned from almost every major festival including the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto for his questionable behaviour.
Aside from the catchy alias, we think it's time that he retires the suit and finds a new character to portray.
1 Santa Bros at ClauWau (Switzerland)
What's ClauWau we hear you asking? It's a yearly festival held in Switzerland where people gather from far and wide to open Swiss ski season by competing to be the best Santa Claus. It doesn't make a lot of sense. 6 hours of competitions that include snowmobiles, scaling fake chimneys and even riding a mechanical rodeo reindeer will determine who goes home with the $2000 dollar prize.
Held at a ski resort with hundreds of Santas competing against each other sounds mighty bro-y to us but the reality is, there are numerous ladies competing too. We think this would be a lot more interesting if the money was going to a charity or if there was at least one aspect of it that had something to do with Christmas itself like cutting down Christmas pines or perfecting the perfect eggnog recipe.
References: Wikipedia, Tripsavvy.com, smithsonianmag.com, theculturetrip.com, hollywoodreporter.com, Fodors.