Few words about Secret Santa...

Last modified on June 15, 2018

Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which the members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they will give a gift. The identity of the person giving the gift is a secret and should not be revealed.

Deriving from the Christian tradition, the ritual is known as :

  • Secret Santa in the United States and the United Kingdom;
  • Kris Kringel or Kris Kindle (Christkindl) in Ireland;
  • Wichteln, Secret SantaKris Kringle, Chris Kindle (Christkindl) or Engerl-Bengerl in some parts of Austria;
  • Secret Santa or Kris Kringle in Canada and Australia;
  • Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, or Monito-monita in the Philippines;
  • Angelito in the Dominican Republic;
  • "Wichteln" in Germany. "Wichteln" is what a "Wichtel", a wight, does, a good deed.

In Poland and Ukraine, the tradition is celebrated on December 6th. 

All of these names derive from traditional Christmas gift-bringers:

the American custom is named after Santa Claus, or St Nicholas (Poland and Ukraine), while Chris Kindle and Kris Kringle are both derivations of the original name of the Austrian gift-bringer Christkindl, which means the "Christ Child".

Exceptions are the UK (where the traditional gift-bringer is Father Christmas) and the Philippines (which has the Three Kings). 

Spain, Portugal and most places in Latin America use Amigo secreto (secret friend) or Amigo invisible/invisível (invisible friend).

In Israel, this game is called גמד וענק (A Dwarf and a Giant) and is mostly played during Purim.


Many families, schools and offices organize this type of event at Christmas or before the end of the year, in a meeting. To publicize and organize this event, some distribute invitations (paper, e-mail exchange channels, Internet site, mobile applications, etc.) in offices; at school, students ask their teachers to prepare a sandwich for the occasion; in families, everyone shares from the beginning. It is usually established a strict limit before the draw of what can be offered (budget, type of gift, etc.). Then a draw is made before the event, with enough time for everyone to prepare their gift. The day of the meeting, in general, the distribution is made with all the gifts placed on a table, marked with the name of the recipient (with or without the one of the one who delivers the gift, depending on the variant used). The exchanges of gifts begin then, for example, with the youngest (or the last to arrive at the company, etc., depending on the situation) who receives his gift from the recipient that is revealed on that occasion.


You can use Tirokdo at any time of the year. It is true that most of you will use it during Christmas, in the office, with friends or family (with or without children). In chronological order, here are some parties in the world where the exchange of gifts is traditionally done:

- Thanksgiving: Canada: 2nd Monday of October / United States: 4th Thursday of November

- Santa Claus: December 6

- Christmas is on the 25th of December

- New Year / Orthodox Christmas: Early January

- Chinese New Year

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Santa

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