Fact Check: Does Gef the Mongoose bring Christmas presents?

Image: Starkey ComicsImage: Starkey Comics

Image: Starkey Comics

This week, an article by Starkey Comics made the rounds, claiming our namesake, Gef the Mongoose, takes the role of Father Christmas on-island. The article stated that Gef, born in New Delhi in 1852,  delivers Christmas presents to children, if they leave out biscuits, chocolates and a banana from a bowl suspended from the ceiling. The children must be in bed before midnight, for if they see Gef, they will surely faint.


While we like to think we know our favourite Mongoose quite well, we had never heard about Gef delivering our presents. We spoke to James Franklin from Culture Vannin about how true it all was..

Claim: Gef was born in New Delhi in 1852

Verdict: True! 

James: “So said Gef himself”

Claim: Gef is a fan of biccies, chocolate, and bananas.

Verdict: Somewhat true.

“The Irving family did leave biscuits and chocolate out for Gef, and he enjoyed them immensely”


“I don’t know about [the] banana. It is possible. However, I rather doubt that they would have had bananas in Doarlish Cashen in the 1930s.”

Claim: Food was left from a bowl suspended on the ceiling

Verdict: false

In the Irving’s house “food was left either on the rafters, or on Gef’s ‘santum’ as it was named by them; a strange flat space over the stairs (a quirk of the odd architecture of the house), where he would also play with a ball and hang out otherwise. It was not left suspended from the ceiling. The food would be left on a platter or saucer, and perhaps a bowl too. There was nothing special for Christmas, other than their leaving out a special something for Gef too, as they would everyone else in the household!”

Claim: You’d faint if you saw Gef after midnight

Verdict: Somewhat true

While we’re not sure where the rumour about fainting after seeing Gef after midnight came from, Gef did once say “I am a freak. I have hands and I have feet, and if you saw me you’d faint, you’d be petrified, mummified, turned into stone or a pillar of salt!”

Claim: Gef gave out gifts at Christmas

Verdict: Somewhat true

“Gef did bring [the Irving family] gifts, but not for Christmas- just as acts of kindness. Hunted rabbits was his favourite gift (as food for the family), which he left outside for them. He also left a coin for them once or twice, which they thought he probably stole off one of their neighbours. There were other little gifts, especially for the girl, Voirrey, who he liked especially. None of this was especially for Christmas.”

So there you have it. While Gef might have been a lot of things- a talking Mongoose for one- he certainly wasn’t the island’s Father Christmas. To James Franklin’s knowledge, no one other than the Irvings have ever left anything out for Gef, nor received anything either. But who knows- maybe you could leave out a couple of biccies, and hope you get a hunted rabbit in return. Delightful.