Every year on December 6, Samichlaus and his partner Schmutzli, along with his donkey, emerge from their cottage in the woods and visit Swiss children. This day in Switzerland is perhaps even bigger than Christmas, when Swiss children believe that the Christkind, or Christ Child, brings them presents instead of Santa Claus.
Samichlaus looks a little like Santa Claus, and though he is less jolly, he is definitely friendly. He rewards good children with a clementine, peanuts, and gingerbread. Schmutzli’s job is to put the naughty kids in his bag and kidnap them. Luckily, when Samichlaus and Schmutzli visited the kids this year in the forest above their school, no one was kidnapped. They were all deemed good children!
I grew up with my Polish family celebrating St. Nicholas day. My kids put their boots or shoes out on December 5, and if they have been good, St. Nicholas (Samichlaus) fills them with treats. They made out pretty well this year!