Today is an important day, and it’s not even my birthday yet! But it’s Santa Day, and that, at least for me, has always been one of the better days in advent (considering that all the days are amazing!). I know that in the States and in many other countries Santa Claus doesn’t show up until Christmas Day but in Switzerland (and quite a few of the other European countries) December 6th is officially the day Santa Claus brings presents to the children. Traditionally he gives out peanuts, chocolates and tangerines in little bags and is accompanied by a donkey and another black hooded figure that we call ”Schmutzli”. I have never even so much as questioned his presence, he’s just part of the whole Santa Claus experience. But being a history student, I couldn’t help but do some research. It is not surprising that Santa, being the one who’s treating all the nice kids, needs some sort of counter opponent who’s responsible for the naughty ones. He’s always wearing a black cloth and all he gives to children is a birch. A lot of children’s verses include the line ”please, don’t give me a birch”. Nowadays, though, he’s just Santa’s goth companion.
As for the early gift giving, I always wondered why Santa doesn’t just climb down the chimney like he does in the movies. For starters, we didn’t and still don’t have a chimney. Fact is that the gift giving used to generally take place on December 6th until Martin Luther introduced the protestant reformation and thus the veneration of saints was prohibited, the tradition slightly altered. Whilein some cultures it is tradition to put out a stocking, we put out actual boots and in the morning they are filled with small gifts. I once had an Orlando Bloom poster stuffed in my winter boots, that was a highlight for my twelve year old self!
Tonight, though, we just had a family gathering at my dad’s house. We had cookies and the traditional peanuts and chocolates. I like that the 6th of December still hasn’t lost its meaning, that even if there’s no Santa coming this day still holds something special. That, to me, is the magic of Christmas!