Friday, December 6, 2013
samichlaus is coming to town
"he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake... he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"
(^side note: is that not the creepiest holiday song you've ever heard in your life? I mean, think about it...)
Guess This Mystery Person:
He wears a red suit, a pointy hat, and big black boots. He has long white hair and a beard. He is frequently accompanied by a small mysterious somewhat magical creature. He shows up around December, and he gives good children presents.
Think you've got it?
Guess again, because if you're thinking "Santa" you're wrong. This is not the American Santa. Trust me, despite the similarities, they are very different people.
Meet my new acquaintance:
Unlike American versions, Swiss Santa does not bring the presents on Christmas Eve. Instead, he comes every December 6th for Samichlaustag.
Like American Santa, he's supposed to ask the Swiss children if they have been good or bad. the good ones get a present (normally chocolate, nuts, and oranges.)
The bad children are punished...
...and that's when it starts to get interesting.
See, American Santa gives them coal. Or sticks. Or something, to show that they've been bad and that they don't deserve a real present. (Also, the American Santa gives fancier presents to the children, not just snacks, but whatever. Maybe Swiss Santa has a lower budget.)
But Swiss Santa? Swiss Santa is a little more proactive here. He has an elf... not just any elf. This one is called Schmutzli, or "little dirty one", and he puts bad children in his sack and on Santa's donkey. (oh yes, Samichlaus does not have 9 reindeer. Instead he has a donkey. More proof that Swiss people have a lower budget for Santa.) Then, after loading the children all up, he carries them off in the sack and leaves them in the dark wood.
Swiss Santa doesn't give coal and sticks to bad children. He simply abducts them and abandons them in the wilderness.
And people WONDER why little kids are afraid to sit on Santa's lap.
However, there are perks to the Swiss version of Santa Claus. The first is (obviously) the food. Swiss children receive gifts at Christmas too, but those come from a different magical person who does not look like a fat guy in a red suit. So really, Samichlaustag is just an extra bonus day for children to eat oranges and chocolate during the holidays. Sounds good to me.
The second is that Samichlaus comes in a much quieter manner than Santa. I've always wondered why parents think their children will believe reindeer can fly, Santa Claus can travel across the whole United States in one night, and somehow he'll deliver presents to all the children. Very large, sometimes expensive presents. I mean, that's got to be stressful.
Which leads me to the last benefit. I pointed out earlier that Swiss Santa Claus doesn't have so many expenses as American Santa Claus... he gives oranges and chocolate instead of big presents, he only employs one elf, and he eschews the reindeer in favor of a little donkey. In other words, Swiss Santa is way cheaper to employ.
So the next time we're worrying about a debt crisis, there's a simple answer: Let's just stop paying Santa so much.
Who needs reindeer, anyway, when you can have a little dark elf to abduct your children?