Here in Switzerland, Samichlaus (St. Nick) and his assistant, Schmutzli visit the children on the 6th of December (as opposed to coming on Christmas eve). The “good” children wake up in the morning to find a boot or sack filled with mandarins and peanuts, while the “misbehaved” children wake up to find an empty boot. Samichlaus and Schmutzli go through the towns to tell children whether they’ve been good or bad. Samichlaus is traditionally dressed all in red with white trim and a fluffy white beard. He bares the resemblance of a bishop, complete with a staff and mitre. Schmutzli is a darker figure wearing the same suit as Samichlaus, yet in brown, and carries a short broom made of twigs to scare the misbehaved children.
Alex and I visited Samichlaus at Franz Carl Weber (Zurich’s biggest toy store) on December 7. I hoped this would prepare him a little for Samichlaus’ house vist 3 days later. It was mixed with several emotions –
On December 10, Alex had his own appointment with Samichlaus and Schmutzli. Alex was fresh out of a bath with his pajamas on when we could hear the slightest ringing of bells coming from the pathway of our apartment. Alex was extremely excited and started running around in circles. Our neighbor’s children downstairs ran out of their apartment to greet Samichlaus. When Samichlaus finally made it inside, Alex was shy, yet very focused on these two slightly familar figures sitting in our living room. He came over and plopped right down on my lap to listen.
Samichlaus explained where he lives and showed us a book filled with pictures. He told Alex that he had been a very good boy this year, but also gave a few pointers on where he could improve (i.e. eating vegetables). Following that, Alex was supposed to do a song or dance. We had been practicing The Itsy Bitsy Spider but a certain someone was too embarrassed to sing the song. He didn’t want me to sing along with him either. They omitted that part and gave Alex a sack filled with goodies and were back out the door in a flash.
Here’s a picture of Alex towards the end of their visit. He was definitely feeling very comfortable with them by this point –