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1. Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift.
2. Deriving from the Christian tradition, the ritual is known as Secret Santa in the United States and the United Kingdom; as Kris Kringel or Kris Kindle (Christkindl) in Ireland; as Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, Chris Kindle (Christkindl) or Engerl-Bengerl in parts of Austria; as Secret Santa or Kris Kringle in Canada and Australia; as Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, or Monito-monita in the Philippines; as Angelito in the Dominican Republic; and as “Wichteln” in Germany.
3. As far as Secret Santa official rules go the only real one is that the gift-givers remain anonymous. Doing so makes the whole event far more successful and exciting for all involved.
4. In Poland, the tradition is celebrated on the day of 6 December (Mikołajki).
5. The actual practice of Secret Santa now tends to occur in schools and workplaces, or even in particularly large families, and offers the chance for the giving and receiving of gifts at a low price to participants, anonymously or otherwise.
6. All of these names derive from traditional Christmas gift-bringers: the American custom is named after Santa Claus, or St Nicholas (Poland), while Chris Kindle and Kris Kringle are both corruptions 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). Most places in Latin America use amigo secreto (secret friend) or amigo invisible (invisible friend).
7. Ahead of the day that presents are given out, names of those involved are put into a hat (of the Christmas variety ideally) and then each participant draws, in secret, the name of the person for whom they’ll buy a gift. Everyone then goes away and buys their gifts within a set budget, usually about £5. Each gift is marked with the name of the recipient, but not the gift-giver. The giving of the Secret Santa gifts is usually performed with all presents being placed under a tree, ahead of the day or just before, and for a particularly flamboyant touch, sometimes with a colleague or family member dressed up as Santa and given the role of giving out the gifts.