Schmutzlis at Migros

December 6th is Samichlaus (= Saint Nicholas) day in Switzerland. In the Christmas tradition, Saint Nicholas and two helpers visit little children and give them presents while extracting promises of good behavior, or else.

These helpers are the Schmutzlis (= little dirty ones, according to one story, on account of shimmying down chimneys). In these parts they're attired as seen in the photo, and they have their faces painted black.

As I was shopping at Migros yesterday I heard bells but by the time I had extricated my camera from my bag, Santa and his entourage were headed out so I managed to get only this shot. I guess they were buying candy for the kiddies...

Other countries in Europe have similar traditions, and some of you may have heard of the recent story about the uproar about the Dutch Zwarte Piet at the UN High Commission for Human Rights.

Here's a recent story on swissinfo, giving background on the Swiss tradition: Swiss Schmutzlis unmoved by Dutch Zwarte Piet row

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