Is Santa Asian?

As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I work for the Japanese American National Museum here in Los Angeles. My job is to plan the public programs. One of my more popular programs is Target Family Free Saturday, which is a day where we have crafts, performances, and workshops for families. A couple of years ago, I did a “take a picture with a Japanese American Santa” event, thinking it’d be fun.  To my surprise, it was a HUGE hit. People came from all over LA and wanted to take pictures with him. And in the years since, people have come back hoping to take another picture with him again.

This got me thinking, why can’t Santa be Asian? Do I want my newborn to wish for an Asian Santa to sneak through our dog door (we don’t have a chimney) and leave a present under the tree? Or does it even matter?

Either way, this got me thinking: Is Santa Asian?

When most people think of Santa, they think of this guy:

According to the Wikipedia entry on him, “Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots (images of him rarely have a beard with no mustache).” (I like that they call him “plump” instead of fat.)

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other portrayals of Santa. In fact, I found lots of variations of Santa:

There’s African American Santa and Latino Santa.

And interestingly enough, during my research, I discovered that there is fetish out there of guys who get off on seeing half-naked girls in Santa outfits. Here’s one of the tamer images:

To be fair, there are pictures of half-naked men in Santa outfits as well. Here is my favorite one:

But what about Asian portrayals of Santa? Do they exist? YES! Not a lot, but they are out there. Here were some of my favorite ones:

There was even an Asian Mrs. Santa Clause:

But what about the “real” Santa? Could he have actually been Asian?

There are two schools of thought about Santa’s origin: Some believe he’s from the North Pole while others maintain he’s an fourth century Catholic saint. I’ll discuss the former first and then address the later after.

According to Wikipedia, Santa “lives at the North Pole, with a large number of magical elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer.” If Santa is from the North Pole, then it would make sense to look at the people who currently live there, the Inuit.

The Inuit can be found all the way along the Arctic coastal regions, from the Bering Strait in Siberia and Alaska to Greenland (where they are known as Kalaadlit), a distance of some 9,000 kilometers. Though they can also be found inland, most live along the coast where there is more food. Around 120,000 people worldwide refer to themselves as Inuit.

Here is a map of where the Inuit’s live:

Here is a cute picture of some Inuit kids:

And it is generally accepted that the Inuit’s ancestors originally came from the Bering Strait area, which separates Asia and North America. So if Santa originally came from the North Pole then he probably looked like the Inuit, which would make him look more “Asian” than the “traditional” ones we see at malls.

However, you might not accept that Santa is from the North Pole. Instead, you think he’s really Saint Nicholas That’s okay too. Saint Nicholas is Asian. You see, he was born in Greece, which is in Asia Minor, which as I had already proved in my Was Jesus Asian? article is part of Asia. Of course, this doesn’t mean he looks “East Asian” but it also doesn’t me he look like the stereotypical Santa either. To be accurate, he probably looks like a modern-day Greek person.

Either way, Santa is Asian. And if you didn’t believe anything I’ve said so far, I have irrefutable proof. I found a picture on the Internet:

Santa’s singing reggae in Malaysia. Have a great holidays!

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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