All you need to know about the Swiss Samichlaus

The Swiss Santa: Samichlaus with his friend Schmutzli

You may be wondering why the Man in Red is already walking through the Swiss streets -  well, unlike the Santa that secretly delivers presents on the night of the 24th, the Swiss version - called Samichlaus - personally visits the children in Switzerland earlier in December.

Here is all you need to know about the Swiss Samichlaus 


The Swiss Samichlaus and his friends Schmutzli

Who is Samichlaus?

The Swiss version of what Americans/Australians/British call Santa.

When does he come?

You will see Samichlaus popping up all over the place during the beginning of December - but his special day is December 6th - the feast day of St. Nikolaus 

Where can I find him?

You will see him out and about at Christmas markets, in cities and towns but also at organised events. Some local villages organise events in the forest, some have parades, some have Samichlaus parades from house to house and some villages allow you to “order” him to come for a visit to your home. Samichlaus may also visit schools, playgroups and childcare facilities around the 6th December. 

Meeting Samichlaus in a local Butcher

What can I expect?

If you invited him into your home or have arranged to visit him in the forest, there is a chance you will be asked to provide some details about your kids and what they did good and bad this year. Our Samichalus asks for information such as what grade the kids are in, who their teacher is, their favourite foods in addition to what they did good and not so good in the past year. During his visit, Samichlaus will refer to his book with his notes and chat to the kids. If he visits your home, a donation to keep his costume in top shape is always appreciated. If you just see him in the streets, he may just ask if your kids have learned a poem or song to recite for him (see below for more info).

Who is his scary looking friend?

Schmutzli is Samichlaus friend

Samichlaus is often accompanied by at least one scary looking friend called Schmutzli. Dressed in a dark cloak with soot on his face - there are many tales about Samichlaus’s friend. Some say he used to take the naughty kids away to the forest, the more modern spin is he is just a helpful friend. If this is your first visit, warn your kids ahead of time because he looks quite intimidating. 

What does he bring?

Chlaussak for the kids from the Swiss version of Santa
A visit by the Swiss Samichlaus

Unlike the Santa we know growing up in the English speaking world, the Swiss Santa (Samichlaus) doesn’t bring a whole lot of presents - but rather a “Chlaussak” or Santa sack - filled with mandarines, unshelled peanuts, chocolates, cookies and gingerbread. Some families may add in a small present, but this is a new tradition. He also may give out a Grittibänz - a sweet bread figure. (Come back tomorrow for a recipe!). 

Where does he live?

No, not at the North Pole.  Samichlaus makes his home in the forest. 

What is a Samichlausspruchli? 

Wherever you meet Samichlaus whether that’s in your home, in the forest, or on the street he will ask your kids if they have a “spruchli” or poem prepared for him. They may learn one in school, or there is plenty of inspiration on the internet. I am always amazed how year after year my hubby can find another poem for the kids to learn - and within days they can say it off by heart - even little Z with some help of pictures knows hers and is ready for Samichlaus’ visit. Don’t speak German? Get your kids to sing an English Christmas song. Looking for a spruchli?  Check out these

All you need to know about the Swiss Santa