Santa is a Cat Burglar

December 17, 2007 By: erik Category: Colindres, Spain, Weird 1,004 views

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Only in the last decade or so, American movies and television have brought the concept of Santa Claus into Spain. Previously it was the sole job of the Three Wise Kings to magically bring presents to children. The main problem Santa faces in Spain is that none of the houses have chimneys. Children aren’t stupid. They might be able to side step rational thought when it comes to a fat man flying through the sky visiting every house in the world, but it would be ridiculous to expect the intruder to be able to walk through walls. But every Spanish house has one clear entry point to a gravity defying invader: the balcony.

Although I’ve only been living in Spain for 2.5 years, I’ve been visiting Spain for Christmas for over five years, so I can be fairly certain that what I’m about to describe is a new phenomenon only about 2-3 years old. Someone, a couple years ago, had the idea to make a little stuffed Santa Claus (called Papa Noel around these parts) and hang him from the balcony as if he were trying to get into the house with a sack full of presents. The cleverness of this idea was appreciated it spread like a highly contagious meme. Now all the decoration shops contain various versions of this cat burglar Santa, sometimes he’s just grabbing hold of the balcony railing, and other times he’s on a ladder. Being a native of the country that popularized this image of the jolly old myth, I find this adaptation particularly amusing.



They really do come in all sizes.


Look at this little guy!






Balcony Snowmen

No Santa here, but what the heck is hiding behind the Christmas tree?

Santa takes a rest

This last one is really well done. Old St. Nick needs a breather every now and then.

  • Funny you should post about this — Magda and I were just noticing the same phenomenon here, too. It seems that every rendition of Santa involves a ladder, and we were wondering why he would need one if he lands on the roof, canonically.

  • Not to mention that there’s nothing under the ladder. Is he going up or down the ladder? Where from/to? It looks to me more like one of those movie clichés where the husband comes home early from work and the wife’s lover has to go hang over the edge of the window or balcony to escape detection.

  • Betsy

    I would think it would be confusing to a little kid to see Santa on multiple balcony rails of the same apartment building simultaneously. I guess at some point parents world-wide resort to the “he’s the spirit of Christmas” explanation. Probably Scott from South Dakota has a good handle on what 3-5 year old Spaniards believe these days. Erik, do you still subscribe to the don’t ask, don’t get told Santa (Easter Bunny, tooth fairy) philosophy? I don’t ever remember you asking for hard facts.

  • The thing is that I can’t ever recall truly believing in the flying fat guy scenario. I just sort of accepted that the stockings would somehow be full on Christmas morning, without ever really questioning it. And then there was some point where the same wrapping paper was used on the ‘from Santa’ presents as the ‘from Mom’ presents (that was just plain sloppy) when it became obvious what the story was. One of the reasons the myth works so well is that there’s a sense of “if I question it, it might stop!” about it, so keeping quiet is the best choice from a maximizing gains point of view.

    I do specifically remember the “Oh look! There’s footprints in the snow leading up to the front door!” stunt that got pulled on our Christmas in Chicago. That was a nice touch. I recall that a big deal was made (probably by the stunt puller) about how the footprints only went one way, and that meant that it must have been Santa. That line of reasoning makes no sense, of course….unless…..the call is coming from inside the house!!!

  • They have Santa-on-a-Rope here too, even though many Belgians have houses with chimneys. Can’t stand them, personally.

  • According to my kids, Papa Noel brings games and the three kings bring presents, something they always remind me of when I mess it up. They seem to know the chimney bit but I haven’t asked about the balcony. Investigation will continue tomorrow.

  • All I can think of looking at these pictures is the “Hang in there!” kitten poster.

  • Paul

    Using the same paper for your presents from Santa and your presents from your parents was an attempt to assist you with the Santa logic problem, which you were obviously having trouble with. You were 12 years old, for Christ’s sake, and we had to do something.

  • Hee-hee, Paul. That is just exactly like something my Dad would say. Hahahaha.

  • Alaskan Uncle Steve

    “Sloppy” ????? That one is easy: Mom and Dad are Santa’s helpers. With as much work to do as Santa most-obviously does, he equally-obviously needs helpers. And who to pitch in when the elves are already doing their best? Parents, of course. If you didn’t receive this answer, I need to have a serious talk with my brother, Erik. Let me know.