You have Santa Claus. We have Mikulás. For you, he's yet to come. For us, he's been and gone.
The custom here is that, as in most of mainland Europe, Santa arrives on December the 5th and is usually accompanied by Krampusz, a devil like figure whose role seems to be to reinforce the underlying message that Santa's gifts are conditional upon good behaviour.
There is also gift giving on the evening of the 24th when, in sure and certain proof of the resurrection, it is the 'baby' Jesus who dispenses the largesse. Not wishing to inculcate such twaddle into the impressionable software of my spawn, I tell her that the English Santa has been delayed and will probably arrive in the dark watches of Christmas Eve. I fear I am fighting a battle I cannot win.
I am prepared to participate in the collusion required to perpetuate the myths of Santa, the Tooth Fairy et al because I believe that deep down, where it really matters, most kids are aware of the games we adults play and are generous enough of spirit to humour us in our folly. Or if not, then we assume that the trauma of discovery is fair preparation for an adult life of similar disillusionments and revelations.
But the legend of the baby Jesus? Notwithstanding the fact that he was supposedly resurrected at the age of...what was it...32, how is it that all good Catholics have sufficient faith in the discriminatory powers of their offspring that they can expect them to accept that one mythical figure is just that and that the resurrection of another is a reality?
It's all very strange.