Visiting Santa Claus in his British habitat

Posted on December 8, 2008 by peacefulyorkshire

yahooavatar15As an American in Britain, you might have kids here in England. You might be heading to a grotto in your nearest British city very soon (Christmas is in 17 more days lovelies, 17 more days!) No, not a ghetto, I said grotto. Yeah, I was confused at first too. Oh no, not Santa’s grotty, Its a grotto. You know, like a cave? Yes, here in Britain, he lives in a grotto. Not a cottage. Not a cabin. Not a wonderland. A GROTTO!?

First, finding the description of Santas habitat  described as a grotto was the first surprise… santas-grotto-1

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?”

No, the Eastern European Santa Claus with the heavy accent was not asking me, personally. You see, I was with Sophie, Mr. Chill’s little niece.

Surprised  by his thick accent, I inspected closer. That’s odd, he looks like he is in his twenties. Oh wait, I can see his dark hair peeping out from his wig! He is so skinny he must be really fit in real life. Is he dating the elf? Well, there is a big Eastern European population here, so why not?

This was the strangest Santa Claus I’d ever seen, not to mention the youngest!

Then, Sophie started crying.

Clearly this was not the Santa she had hoped for in her imagination. Upset by her tears, Twenty- Something-Santa-with-the-dark-hair-and-thick-Russian-accent asked again:

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?”

Sophie stared.

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?” he prompted again.

“Uh, she wants a tea set”, I fumbled.

Sophie was  still unsure and clearly wanted to leave ASAP… and his elf assistant was not so elfy in attitude.

“Teek a preesent”, he said, putting it in Sophie’s reach.

“Thanks, and Merry Christmas, Wait, I mean, Happy Christmas” I said, and then left, amused by the whole thing.

But the cool thing about being visiting Santa Claus in his British habitat is that he gives each  kids a  toys, for free. Growing up going to the shopping malls in America there were no free toys– just a huge line, bitchy elfs and then pressure to buy the photo. I liked this quirky adventure much more.

And that, dear readers,  was my first English grotto experience.

And to you :

Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Sandra December 21, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Ok so I was walking with my mom in the mall today. I am visiting my family this week in NJ.
    So, she asks “What are the British traditions” as we pass the Santa Claus North Pole display in the shopping mall.
    So, I told her that in the UK he was called “Father Christmas” and that he lives in a “grotto” in a place called “Lapland”. And that kids in Britain leave out Whiskey for him on Christmas Eve.
    You should have seen the look on her face.
    She said “oh my my English grandkids someday are going to be reallllly messed up!”

    Well, when you put it that way it does sound pretty funny.

  2. pacificyorkshirebird December 17, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I don’t even know what a grotto is, but it doesn’t sound pleasant at all. You are a good person for taking Mr. Chill’s niece. Someday you two can laugh about the twenty-something Santa.

  3. John December 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Hmm, I had a look at the Wikipedia article, but I wonder why the British decide to use Lapland where Santa lives? I saw on the One Show last night that reindeer live in Scotland too.. why not up there?
    Americans use the North Pole but I am not sure why either…

  4. Sarah December 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Lapland is just a name for Northern Finland. That’s where reindeer live, so it makes sense for Santa to have a residence there.

    Wikipedia – Lapland

  5. peacefulyorkshire December 10, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Have you ever noticed as that In Britain its not the North Poll where Santa Claus lives but Lapland?
    When I first heard that I had some downright dirty thoughts about exotic dancers teasing poor Santa and his elves with lapdances in the far off land of lap! Surely not a place for kids hehe.
    I guess it must be called lapland because everyone sits on Santa’s lap to tell him what they want for Christmas?
    I am not sure… but something makes me feel funny about that location…
    Any British people want to explain– because I am confused!

  6. kenandbelly December 10, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Just the word grotto icks me out. Grot. to. Pass the bleach, please. First we tell the kiddos not to talk to strangers, particularly strange strangers. Then we tell them to go sit on that guy’s lap, you know, the fat bearded guy in the wierd red outfit who lives in a GROTTO? I find most Britishisms quaint or at least amusing. But Santa in a GROTTO? ick.

    Glad I could get that off my chest here. On my blog, once I figure out where to find Santa’s Manchester grotto, I’ll be sticking to less icky aspects. I don’t want my American fam to mistranslate!

  7. peacefulyorkshire December 9, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks Bobby…
    We are only 2 this week since pacificyorkshire bird is on holiday– in the Pacific Northwest, of course!
    We try to make you laugh, so glad it is working a treat for you and your wife ;)

  8. Bobby Banza December 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Thank god we found you 3 gals, I have been looking for a blog like this for a while and you by far are some of the funniest! And you are insightful, too.
    I have just moved to England from NYC with my wife and she and i have been using your blog as a “guide” to british life.

    We too, were wondering what is a Grotto and santa have in common? Oddest word choice!

  9. peacefulyorkshire December 21, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Hi Sandra,
    I am back in America as well this week–I too was in the mall and saw the North Poll display with Santa… I was yesterday telling my family how Santa in the UK gives free toys! They were impressed with that even though they didn’t get the Grotto part. My mom kept saying graw-do?? A GRAW_DO??
    It was hilarious.

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