Christmas in Europe: Who’s bring what when?
For children in Switzerland, “Sami Claus” is the man in red, with long white beard and a big sack. Sounds familiar? Sure, except he comes every December 6 and his bag is filled – not with presents – but with nuts and gingerbread men for the stockings of those who’ve been good. And in other countries in Europe, “Nikolaus'” day of visit may be earlier or later. In Germany, he comes on the 7th of December. In Belgium, it even varies whether you are living on the French part or the Dutch part and he adds oranges to the nuts which are then placed inside shoes.
Some families may decide to stick on the date of their country of origin regardless of where they move to. My son R’s friend had her Sami Claus goodies on December 5 they way they do it in Italy. When my family moved to Switzerland from Germany 2 years ago, we decided to follow the Swiss date.
Now, you may ask, who’s bringing the real presents to the kids? In Germany, depending on your religious inclination, it may be the “Weihnachtsman” (Father Christmas) or the “Christkind” (the child Jesus) and he comes at 6 pm on December 24.
Being part of a multicultural family living in another country is great. But it has its downside – especially at Christmas – when I am prone to mix up dates and botch up Christmas present deliveries ( as I did last year).
It was much simpler for me when I was a little girl. There was only Santa Claus coming on December 25. It’s a bit more complicated, even confusing for my boys. And I really sometimes dread the questions that come up about these Christmas delivery people because although I’m well-versed about the biography of Santa Claus, I’m not so familiar with the others.
Sami Claus, Weihnachtsman, Santa Claus. Who’s bringing what when?
Now, at 5 and a half, it seems that my boys have found the answers themselves. R was telling his twin brother last night.
“It’s Sami Claus who is coming tomorrow. He rides a donkey and he’s bringing nuts. Later Santa Claus will come. He rides on a sleigh and he will bring the presents.”
“But why does he come later?” asked the ever impatient F.
“Because he lives so far away in the North Pole.”
I find it so funny and sweet how they try to find and manage to find the answers themselves – from their friends, from books, and from their experience of the previous years. And I took my cue from their conversation as to what goes into their stockings that night.
Maybe someday when they are old enough, I’d show them this picture from a Christmas card made by Jenni Johnson. It sure does explain everything.