Belfast, Northern Ireland

Dean John Mann collects money for charity at Belfast Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of St. Anne in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (St. Anne's Cathedral)

Forget the jolly fat man in the red suit. In Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, kids and adults flock to see the Black Santa.

Come rain or shine (or snow), the man known as Black Santa sits on the steps of Belfast Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of St Anne from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Dec. 17 to Christmas Eve. He’s not there to give away gifts but to collect for about 150 local charities.   

This Santa derives his name from the Anglican clerical cloak (or cowl) that the dean of the cathedral wears. Dean John Mann took over the post in 2011. His “Sit Out” is a unique event that dates to 1976, when Dean Sammy Crooks first took to the streets to collect for the poor and protest against expenditures on cathedral building programs.

Nearly 40 years later, the Black Santa has raised millions for charity, and his arrival, albeit without sleigh or red-nosed reindeer, is a big deal in the city. The mayor comes along to say “Merry Christmas” and to donate into the big, brown barrel.

Donations can be made out to “Cathedral Sit Out” and sent to the Dean of Belfast Cathedral, Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2HB, UK – Northern Ireland.