Wednesday, 8 December 2010

{Day 6} ~ Every Little Thing

The prompt for Day 6 for Picture the Holidays was "Every Little Thing", to find a small delight on an ordinary day. I was spending the weekend in the mountains, so it wasn't really "ordinary days" and there were many small delights. This little Samichlaus was one of them and as the 6th of December is the feast of Saint Nicholas, I thought this would be very approbriate.

There was a small Christmas market in Davos and my friend and me went to have a look. At one of the stalls run by an organisation for integrating the unemployed, we found those sweet chaps. We just couldn't resist their charm and we both bought one. That dark thing on the right side is a wooden candle, made of a thick wooden branch or small trunk. The flame is also made of wood and painted. They're handmade by the husband of the lady at the stall, who gave them to us for a third of the price because it was closing time soon and she was happy to get back to a warm house after having been at the market all day (it was a good -10 degrees C that day). Me and my friend, we were so happy with our buys, because they are special and hand made rather than mass produced and because we had spent a great day together.

The Samichlaus (as he's called in my dialect of Swiss German) or Sankt/Heiliger Nikolaus in German, looks very similar like Santa Claus (Weihnachtsmann in German) but is actually not the same. He's based on Nicolaos of Myra (on which Santa Claus is modelled). He also brings presents to good children but not on Christmas but on the 6th of December, or the evening before. He doens't climb down the chimney during the night but knocks on the door and comes into the house to ask the children if they're been good. He brings nuts and oranges and children learn poems by heart to recite to him to earn them. Thankfully, my parents never booked a Samichlaus to come and visit me but I was frightend every year that he might come... The presents on Christmas Eve in Switzerland, and other (German speaking) countries are brought by the Christkind (christ-child). Sankt Nikolaus is usually accompanied  by his helper Schmutzli or Knecht Ruprecht. He's clad in brown and carries a rod to punish the bad children with. Often, they also have a donkey with them.

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