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A Visit by Swiss Santa

If there is one ingredient of Christmas that has spread all around the globe by now, it's probably the person of Santa Claus, Papa Noël, Père Noël or Father Christmas which are all loosely based on the historic figure of Saint Nicholas. In Switzerland, this red-clothed and white-bearded figure is called 'Samichlaus' and despite the obvious similarities to the other Santa Claus versions, the Swiss Christmas tradition involving his visit is quite different.

Samichlaus & Schmutzli - Alwin Gasser  /
The Swiss Santa Claus Tradition

Unlike in the United States or other places around the globe, Santa Claus visits Switzerland not on the 24th but on the 6th of December. He also does not bring gifts but instead carries a huge bag filled with chocolates, peanuts and mandarines for everyone to share. However, he doesn't simply share these sweet treasures with everyone because first, he evaluates every possible recipient.

In Switzerland the Christmas gifts and treats are brought by the Christkind - 
or at least that's what young children are being told.

Let me explain, how the Santa tradition in Switzerland works. In the evening of December 6th the Samichlaus visits every family (or school and sometimes even work places!) with his helper called 'Schmutzli' which literally translates to 'dirty one'. Santa is dressed in a long red gown and often a large pointy red hat and walks with a long staff. His helper is usually dressed in all black clothes and appears with a blackened face. He does not speak much but assists in distributing chocolates and peanuts and other tasks. He also carries the famous 'Fitze', a bundle of dried twigs used for spanking.

Unlike in other countries, in Switzerland Santa actually knocks on the door and is invited in by whoever is home. Maybe Swiss chimneys are simply to narrow for him to climb down?! Sometimes, Santa even has a donkey with him that carries his bag of treats.

A Good or a Bad Report

Once inside, the Samichlaus orders his helper to put down the big bag with the treats and open it to show everyone what he has brought with him. He then calls up everyone present one by one and gives them a report on how they behaved during the last year. How does he know? Well, the parents usually tell Santa beforehand something about each child and adult who will be present. So Santa will know exactly what to say! He'll praise children for doing their homework or always helping their parents but he'll also give hints in which areas they still have to improve.

After receiving their report, every child can try to improve their standing with Santa by reciting a poem, a rhyme and sometimes even a song. Typically, these short poems are about the Santa tradition in Switzerland or about the Christmas season and are sometimes adapted by the children themselves. Some of them are a bit humorous which is not always received well by the visiting Santa and might even earn a stern glance or word.

A good report and a good poem will get a child a big handful of treats. A bad report and a bad poem usually lead to a reprimand by Samichlaus and in severe cases even endanger you of receiving blows with the 'Fitze' from Santa's helper or - even worse - being stuck into Santa's bag and carried off with him. At least, that's what we were told as children although it never actually happened. Promises to do better next year usually save you from that.

Santa also gives a report to parents and grown ups but usually in a rather funny way which is not to be taken too seriously! So I hope you behaved this year and will receive treats and not be carried off!

Swiss Santa - Gerald Henseler  /

Six Poems for Santa

Here are a few classic Swiss poems to recite for Santa should he come visit your home this holiday season! Remember, you can also make up your own and some Santas will also accept a jolly Christmas carol in English or Swiss German like 'Zimetschtärn hani gärn'!

Samichlaus du liebe Maa (Santa Claus you're a good man)
dörfi au es Nüssli haa.? (may I please have some nuts as well?)

Samichlaus du bisch en Guete (Santa Claus you're a good man)
gäll ich bruche gwüss kei Ruete (I won't need to be chastized, right?)
Läär lieber hüt i eusem Huus (Instead, empty in our house)
de allergröschti Chlaussack uus. (the biggest Santa bag)

Was isch das für es Liechtli? (What is this light?)
Was isch das für en Schii? (What is this glow?)
De Chlaus mit de Laterne (Santa Claus with his lantern)
gaht grad de Wald durii. (is walking through the forest)

Sami Niggi Näggi (Santa Claus)
Hinterem Ofe stecki (I'm behind the oven)
Gib mer Nuss und Bire (if you'll give me nuts and pears)
de chumi weder füre. (I'll come out)

Ich bin en chline Stumpe (I'm just a little one)
ha nur churzi Bei. (with short legs)
Gib mer gschwind es Päckli (Quickly, give me a present)
denn chani weder hei. (so I can go home)

Samichlaus du guete Maa (Santa Claus you're a good man)
gäll ich mues kei Ruete haa. (surely I don't deserve the rod)
Gib sie lieber em Papi (Instead use it on Daddy)
de isch de grösser Lappi. (he is the bigger dupe)



  1. Hope my baby will see sta claus this x mas.....sta..pleas come..Danke..👏👏👏👏👏👏


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