Happy Samichlaus Day!

December 6th, 2017 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »

Today is the Feast of St. Nikolas

Samichlaus visits children with a donkey and his companion, the Schmützli

On December 6th in Switzerland, Samichlaus (the Swiss German St. Nick) visits children’s homes and brings bags filled with peanuts, chocolates, gingerbread, clementines, and other delights. Sometimes he and his helpers, the Schmützlis, come and secretly drop off the goodies. Sometimes whole (and in our village’s case, schools) classes of children head to the forest to meet Samichlaus and his Schmützlis. Sometimes he visits the house, comes in and reads from his book about being naughty and nice. Often he comes with a donkey, too, to carry his bags of goodies.

I like the Sixth of December for many reasons: first and foremost, there is no Santa at Christmas bringing gifts; but also, I prefer this Samichlaus and have had very positive experiences with our local ones who have visited our family over the years as our children grew up. Our children had very congenial ones who asked for (musical) concerts and read from their books in a compassionate manner. It was hard to be afraid of these handsomely dressed bishops with their amazing costumes.

Samichlaus is almost the antithesis of commercialism. He shows up only with a bag of treats and talks about how the children have done the past year, not about what i-thing they want from him for Christmas. It is a great relief for me as a parent and a better focus on the Reason for the Season, in my point of view.

But my adult children do not ask for visits from Samichlaus anymore and we do not (yet) have any other children about who may. So the a this year we will celebrate on our own, with the chocolate, peanuts and mandarins in a bowl and have a “light” Swiss supper of homemade vegetable soup, Swiss nüssli (lambsears) salad, sliced meat and cheese—and Griitibänz with Swiss Aargau Gingerbread for dessert, to be eaten with the bowl of goodies. And, in our family we drink hot chocolate with all of this. The recipes I use for the Griitibänz and Gingerbread are at the bottom of the blog today, but first let me explain the Griitibäanz. These are men mad of (sweet, white) bread dough that you can buy specifically on the 6th of December here in Switzerland. As far as I can tell, he represents Samichlaus. We dunk the pieces of bread in the hot chocolate and it’s delicious!

Here are the recipes, the first from “Swiss Milk” and the second from the Aargauer Landfrauen:

Gritibänz:

  • 500 g flour here you can use “Zopfmehl”
  • ½ TB salt
  • 1-2 TB sugar
  • 75 g softened butter
  • ½ block of fresh yeast (21 g), crumbled
  • 2,75 dl milk,lukewarm

Mix all ingredients together, preferably with your hands and then knead about 10 minutes. Let it rise until it is doubled in size in a warm, draft-free place. If your kitchen is cool, warm the oven a little and put it in there. I make four-five men from this amount of dough. Shape the dough into a log of about 10 cm and cut the bottom for legs, the arms are also cut (be careful not to cut through the log) and then tiny cuts are made for the neck. Experiment and have fun. Some make female ones, others add stocking caps, etc. Use raisins to decorate, but cut holes for them, or they will just burn during baking. Paint them with a beaten egg and bake in a 200°C oven for 20-30 minutes until done (the bottom should sound hollow when done).

Enjoy a Swiss bread-man!

Aargauer Gingerbread:

  1. flour – 500g (I use half-white and the other half spelt (Dinkel)
  2. sugar – 500g
  3. cocoa powder – 3TB
  4. Lebkuchengewürz – 1 packet (from the Swiss store)– or a mix of 1.5-2t cinnamon, 0.5t clove, 0.5t nutmeg and a dash of cardamom
  5. baking powder – 1TB
  6. milk – 5dl (a half a litre)
  7. canola (Raps) oil – 4TB

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix everything together in a bowl. I put the dough on a cookie sheet that has baking parchment on it. Bake in an unheated oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes. As it cools you can butter it, or after it cools you can decorate it as you wish. We eat it plain, often with tea.

A favorite snack in Advent in my canton

Happy St. Nick’s, Swiss-style!

Patricia Jehle       www.jehle-coaching.com               patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

 

 

Advertisement

Leave a Reply