28. November 2019 - The heralds of Christmas

Small noses are pressed up against window panes, and wide eyes scan the darkness outside, searching for the glow of a lantern. The wait for St. Nicholas (known hereabouts as “Samichlaus”) and his assistants Schmutzli and Ruprecht seems to take forever!

But – there! – at last a dim light appears in the distance, growing steadily brighter. It is accompanied by the tinkling sound of the small bells that Schmutzli wears around his waist. Unmistakeable proof that Samichlaus is coming! The children’s hearts beat faster with anticipation. What account will the big golden book give of their behaviour this year? Will Samichlaus bring them anything? 

There is a knock at the door. At that moment, even the cheekiest children are quiet and still. And then there they are, right there in the living room – Samichlaus with his long white beard and bishop’s robes, Ruprecht with his shaggy beard and brown monk’s habit to guard against the cold, and mysterious Schmutzli with only the whites of his eyes visible in his blackened face. They may look like a motley trio, but they make a strong team.


(Kopie 2)

It is a long-standing tradition in Engelberg for Samichlaus and his companions to personally visit families during the first week of Advent. The visits are possible thanks primarily to the efforts of the Samichlausenbruderschaft (Samichlaus brotherhood), which organises the visits on an entirely voluntary basis. Thankfully, the brotherhood is always able to recruit enough new volunteers to keep the tradition alive. This year, Engelberg’s Samichlaus will set out again to visit families on Saturday, 30 November, following the arrival procession on Friday, 29 November, and a blessing by the Abbot the next day.

I’m sure Samichlaus will be just as nervous as the children. But when he enters their warm living rooms and sees their happy, shining faces he will feel at ease, full in the knowledge that he and his quirky companions are very welcome there!


Images & Written by: Beat Christen

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