In the old nature religion (in which the divine was often perceived as feminine) it was the female horned reindeer who reigned supreme as the great goddess of the winter solstice. http://gathervictoria.com/2014/12/04/doe-a-deer-a-female-deer-the-spirit-of-mother-christmas/
St. Nicholas became the Patron Saint of many countries including Russia, becoming a major ingredient in the Russian Christmas celebration. England made St. Nicholas, "Father Christmas." Germany picked up on that title, and in France he became known as "Papa Noel."