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  #21  
Old 24.10.2011, 05:41
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The one that comes overnight on 24th is called Santa Claus, the one on 6th December is called Saemi Chlaus here in German speaking Kt Zurich.

Yes they have different weights and levels of jolliness, although they dress the same. I am not aware of anyone locally calling either of these "st Nicholas" though I'm familiar with the expression. In Zurich he is Saemi Chlaus and Schmutzli...
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Old 24.10.2011, 06:34
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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The one that comes overnight on 24th is called Santa Claus, the one on 6th December is called Saemi Chlaus here in German speaking Kt Zurich.

Yes they have different weights and levels of jolliness, although they dress the same. I am not aware of anyone locally calling either of these "st Nicholas" though I'm familiar with the expression. In Zurich he is Saemi Chlaus and Schmutzli...
Santa, Samichlaus and St. Nicholas are all the same guy. Every Swiss will tell you that Samichlaus is simply Swiss German for St. Nicholas (Nikolaus in German, pronounced "Nichlaus" in Swiss German). The "real" name would by Saint Nikolaos, a former bishop in what is today Turkey. As all catholic saints does he have a day in the calendar. His is the 6th of December. He became a saint cause he was giving a lot to the poor (something all richt clergy men probably should do, but apparently didn't, so he stand out...) - so he became "the rich guy with the presents".

Dressing Santa in red and white was invented by Coca Cola (I am not joking). The entire "living on North pole with elves" stuff probably by Hollywood and English influences of "father Christmas" moved it probably to the 24th. The rest is a mix of many influences of North American culture. Basically does he stand for commercialization while the other guy's message is charity. That's why Samichlaus traditionally hands out some sweets and fruits, not huge presents.

I personally find it rather annoying to get all the Santa rubbish in Europe as well these days.
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Old 24.10.2011, 07:49
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The one that comes overnight on 24th is called Santa Claus, the one on 6th December is called Saemi Chlaus here in German speaking Kt Zurich.
The "Santa Claus" visit down the chimney on the 24th isn't a feature of much of mainland Europe. Here the "Christkindli" comes with presents.

We've adopted the Swiss culture because the various visits from Sämichlaus, Father Christmas and Santa Claus was getting confusing, especially as my son was mixing with other Swiss kids and hearing about their traditions.

Now we have Sämichlaus visiting on the 6th Dec with his tangerines, nuts and lebkuchen, then the Christkindli comes sometime on the evening of the 24th December with only one or two presents rather than the haul of booty kids seem to get in the UK.

He gets a pressie from mum and dad on the morning of the 25th as a nod to my British culture.
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Old 24.10.2011, 08:49
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Dressing Santa in red and white was invented by Coca Cola (I am not joking). The entire "living on North pole with elves" stuff probably by Hollywood and English influences of "father Christmas" moved it probably to the 24th. The rest is a mix of many influences of North American culture. Basically does he stand for commercialization while the other guy's message is charity. That's why Samichlaus traditionally hands out some sweets and fruits, not huge presents.

I personally find it rather annoying to get all the Santa rubbish in Europe as well these days.
Is there anything the US doesn't get blamed for these days? Even Santa who brings folks presents? When the US does something right, be sure to wake me so I don't miss it.

You'd best not tell the Finns in Rovaniemi, Finland ( http://www.santaclausvillage.info/ ) that he's a tired American invention as they firmly believe that he lives up there and is a Finnish creation....(but not with the badass goat who comes for the leftovers on 12th night - long story)
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:00
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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..but not with the badass goat who comes for the leftovers on 12th night - long story
Badass goat? Pray tell, this sounds way more interesting than a bunch of old men getting dressed up.
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:19
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Is there anything the US doesn't get blamed for these days? Even Santa who brings folks presents?
Well, there is a lot I don't blame the US for - pushing your values and traditions on others is unfortunately one thing I do see quite a lot. (I could now tell you the story of the US tourists I met who were confuse that they were the only ones to celebrate July 4th in Interlaken...)

Maybe it was the seven years in Switzerland that made me a bit more conservative than before, but actually conservative in the purest sense: I like some traditions to be conserved. I am not religious, but I like kids going to Samichlaus, Sinterklass, Nikolaus or Santa - depending on where they live - and I like that diversity. In Europe, I'd like it to remain on the 6th of december, and I'd prefer him to look like a bishop and not a coke advertising figure.

I remember about a decade ago how once my doorbell rang - I opened it and a kid in a ghost costume looked at me and asked for sweets. I was totally confused and told him to get lost when the mother - who apparently hid behind the door - jumped out to explain me that it was Halloween and that kids go out to collect sweets on that night. I explained her that I am not living in America and if she wanted her kid play pranks on others, she could just as well do it on Walpurgisnacht - a very similar tradition to your Halloween exactly six months apart.

I could give you tons of examples. And again: It does not mean that I don't like the US traditions, I just think they belong to the US. There is no point of introducing thanksgiving to Europe and I'd prefer Europeans to not totally forget many nice local traditions instead - just because there is no Simpsons or Spongebob special on them...

Happy Deepavali.
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:20
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

Oh please.....spare me the post modern justifications from here and the Netherlands about why the good guy is the white jolly one and why the black/dirty/Moorish/sooty one is really a good guy too....gimme a break.

They are colonial and old fashioned symbols and have no place in today's societies where kids get quite enough racial stereotyping without having their own version of "white is for good kids, black for bad ones" shoved down their throat at Christmas.

And for those that say - oh, what a spoilsport, its part of our rich cultural heritage and does no harm.....well, yeah, so lets be consistent and use Christmas to celebrate slavery, tuberculosis, child labour and women who can't vote too, shall we?
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:21
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Badass goat? Pray tell, this sounds way more interesting than a bunch of old men getting dressed up.
Hrm, can't really find anything in English that does the job of explaining the story and I'll assume you dot read Finnish...the joulupukki (now santa) is followed by the nuuttipukki. 'pukki' meaning goat. If you've ever seen the straw goats around the holidays (one huge one in particular in Sweden gets vandalized and torched every year), they are related to the much older traditions before the bible bearing types arrived. Originally, the joulupukki wasn't all jolly and gift-bearing, either...rather a nasty type best avoided. If you've never seen the short films 'rare exports' ( http://www.woodpeckerfilm.fi/rareexports/ ) you should watch as it's a fun play on the original myth of 'father christmas' and pretty hilarious, too.
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:24
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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I could give you tons of examples. And again: It does not mean that I don't like the US traditions, I just think they belong to the US. There is no point of introducing thanksgiving to Europe and I'd prefer Europeans to not totally forget many nice local traditions instead - just because there is no Simpsons or Spongebob special on them...
I'll agree with that and I can't explain Yankees wanting fireworks on the 4th in Europe, but Christmas on the 25th isn't an American thing...though, yes, Santa is, more or less, an American invention that has been adopted here in Europe. I'll transfer blame to the churchy types.
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  #30  
Old 24.10.2011, 09:32
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Oh please.....spare me the post modern justifications from here and the Netherlands about why the good guy is the white jolly one and why the black/dirty/Moorish/sooty one is really a good guy too....gimme a break.

They are colonial and old fashioned symbols and have no place in today's societies where kids get quite enough racial stereotyping without having their own version of "white is for good kids, black for bad ones" shoved down their throat at Christmas.

And for those that say - oh, what a spoilsport, its part of our rich cultural heritage and does no harm.....well, yeah, so lets be consistent and use Christmas to celebrate slavery, tuberculosis, child labour and women who can't vote too, shall we?
Turn it any way you want: Knecht Ruprecht/Schmutzli/"whatever the Austrians called him again" is nothing colonial at all. In case you forgot: Switzerland or Austria had no colonies or any ties to Africa.

He isn't African - he is a devil. "Ruprecht" is VERY clear at that (It simply means demon or devil) and when I was a kid, he usually even had horns on his head and some of the more elaborate costumes had hooves.

Yes, the devil is usually a dark figure, hairy and black. If you see racism in that, I think you just need to get off your high horse.

The black Pete's are a bit different: They are in fact Spanish Moors. Spain was at that time an enemy of the Netherlands and introducing Spanish soldiers as "small and funny black men" was surely an intended pun. Still a cultural heritage that - when properly explained - is not a slap in the face of any dark skinned person today. I see it more like the Funkemariechen:

They are the traditional carneval dancing girls in Germany - but they are actually an insult to the French: Their costumes are French uniforms and the message is "French soldiers are like little dancing girls". Not politically correct - but not a tradition I am willing to give up just to be PC.
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:40
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Oh please.....spare me the post modern justifications from here and the Netherlands about why the good guy is the white jolly one and why the black/dirty/Moorish/sooty one is really a good guy too....gimme a break.

They are colonial and old fashioned symbols and have no place in today's societies where kids get quite enough racial stereotyping without having their own version of "white is for good kids, black for bad ones" shoved down their throat at Christmas.

And for those that say - oh, what a spoilsport, its part of our rich cultural heritage and does no harm.....well, yeah, so lets be consistent and use Christmas to celebrate slavery, tuberculosis, child labour and women who can't vote too, shall we?
Bah, humbug!

Actually, to give some more weight to all that, Christmas should really be celebrated around Easter time. Apparently that's when the historical figure purported to be Jesus was born.

Celebrating Christmas in December is a relatively recent phenomenon which ties in several other festivals.
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:42
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Turn it any way you want: Knecht Ruprecht/Schmutzli/"whatever the Austrians called him again" is nothing colonial at all. In case you forgot: Switzerland or Austria had no colonies or any ties to Africa.

Yes, the devil is usually a dark figure, hairy and black. If you see racism in that, I think you just need to get off your high horse.

The black Pete's are a bit different: They are in fact Spanish Moors. Spain was at that time an enemy of the Netherlands and introducing Spanish soldiers as "small and funny black men" was surely an intended pun. Still a cultural heritage that - when properly explained - is not a slap in the face of any dark skinned person today.

They are the traditional carneval dancing girls - but they are actually an insult to the French: Their costumes are French uniforms and the message is "French soldiers are like little dancing girls". Not politically correct - but not a tradition I am willing to give up just to be PC.
I said old-fashioned and colonial - I know the Swiss don't have a colonial past (Jeez.....what I thought THAT is!)

So - if you'll forgive my "high horse" for a second......are "The Black and White Minstrels" OK? (I hope you remember them?) White guys blacking up their faces to entertain?

And the reference to French soldiers is a little different - subtle racial cues (white good, black bad) are a small part of a more widespread problem about the inequality of the races when it comes to earnings, respect, "stop and search" etc etc. If French soldiers suffered in similar ways, yeah......girls should stop dressing up as them. But I think the comparison is trivial.

(PS I assume you never suffered serious racial stereotyping? The answer of "Its only lighthearted fun" never seems to come from those that have)
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  #33  
Old 24.10.2011, 09:45
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Celebrating Christmas in December is a relatively recent phenomenon which ties in several other festivals.
Yep, since the early fourth century to be precise
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Old 24.10.2011, 09:59
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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So - if you'll forgive my "high horse" for a second......are "The Black and White Minstrels" OK? (I hope you remember them?) White guys blacking up their faces to entertain?
No, I did not know them. Had to look it up as I am not that old and not English either.

Your comparison of a centuries old tradition with a BBC comedy show is, well, not exactly fair. And the comment on Knecht Ruprecht is simply uninformed and wrong. He looks like a medieval demon, end of story.

Or let me simply ask you if I get it right: Do you have a problem that the devil is typically a black figure? Do you really believe that this is based on skin color and racism?

I for one have never seen a picture of the devil looking like an African person. It is typically more some sort of animal creature.

- humans of all races are naturally afraid of the dark. The devil is in basically all religions that know a devil a creature of the night.

- he lives in hell, a very dark place

- he is some sort of half animal with horns and hooves, so yes, he has dark fur.


If that really is your problem: Make a constructive suggestion: What should the devil look like? Fluffy and multi-color?
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Old 24.10.2011, 10:21
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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Your comparison of a centuries old tradition with a BBC comedy show is, well, not exactly fair.

Or let me simply ask you if I get it right: Do you have a problem that the devil is typically a black figure? Do you really believe that this is based on skin color and racism?


If that really is your problem: Make a constructive suggestion: What should the devil look like? Fluffy and multi-color?
Just because something is old, it doesn't make it right. Part of the rich cultural heritage of football was to throw bananas and make monkey noises at black people......shall we do that again?

No, it isn't about the devil at all - its about Santa (and incarnations) scary helper. I didn't mention the devil - that came from you. I just don't think that kids should be taught to make such associations.....I think that getting the future right is more important than respecting bad historical stereotypes. To be honest, I have a bigger problem with the Dutch one than the Swiss one

I know what devil looks like to me......but I can't find a photo of Tony Brunner through my safesearch filter
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Old 24.10.2011, 10:26
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

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No, it isn't about the devil at all - its about Santa (and incarnations) scary helper. I didn't mention the devil - that came from you.
Ok. Slowly again and just for you: The helper is called Knecht Ruprecht in German. "Knecht" means servant, "Ruprecht" means demon or devil. The scary helper is a devil. Really really.
In Austria they call him Krampus, which means the same. That's what he looks like:


Is that a guy in blackface making fun of Africans to you or rather a demon?

That the Swiss gave him a somewhat "cuter" name over the centuries is based on the fact that they use diminutive forms for pretty much everything.
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Old 24.10.2011, 10:28
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Ok. Slowly again and just for you: The helper is called Knecht Ruprecht in German. "Knecht" means servant, "Ruprecht" means demon or devil. The scary helper is a devil. Really really.
In Austria they call him Krampus, which means the same. That's what he looks like:


Is that a guy in blackface making fun of Africans to you or rather a demon?

That the Swiss gave him a somewhat "cuter" name over the centuries is based on the fact that they use diminutive forms for pretty much everything.
My point is more general and important, but thanks for the lesson on the trivial minor point
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Old 24.10.2011, 10:31
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Yep, since the early fourth century to be precise
Christmas is all built around a myth with various add-on made-to-fit traditions which have popped up through the centuries anyway.

In my experience, it's all just a good excuse to get together with friends and rellies and have a good knees-up once a year.
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Old 24.10.2011, 11:25
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Re: SamiKlaus and his dark friend??

Treverus - you can groan all you like, but I was making a point about whether or not it is good to reinforce serious negative racial stereotypes from such an early age and in connection with such a family friendly festival.

I'm more than happy for you to disagree or debate it, but sending a photo of one mask from one festival and asking if I think it looks like an African, or what I would wish the devil to look like is slightly missing the point - I think.
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Old 24.10.2011, 11:35
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The one that comes overnight on 24th is called Santa Claus, the one on 6th December is called Saemi Chlaus here in German speaking Kt Zurich.
It's Samichlaus, not Saemi Chlaus, but that's just a detail.

Until fairly recently, Santa Claus including his trademark outfit was something the Swiss (and most continental Europeans) knew only from TV and Hollywood. Santa has been forced upon us in the last two decades or so, and the result often is a strange mixture of Santa and Samichlaus.

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Santa, Samichlaus and St. Nicholas are all the same guy. Every Swiss will tell you that Samichlaus is simply Swiss German for St. Nicholas (Nikolaus in German, pronounced "Nichlaus" in Swiss German).

Dressing Santa in red and white was invented by Coca Cola (I am not joking). The entire "living on North pole with elves" stuff probably by Hollywood and English influences of "father Christmas" moved it probably to the 24th. The rest is a mix of many influences of North American culture. Basically does he stand for commercialization while the other guy's message is charity. That's why Samichlaus traditionally hands out some sweets and fruits, not huge presents.

I personally find it rather annoying to get all the Santa rubbish in Europe as well these days.
Amen to the last sentence.

Just a few little corrections:

The pronounciation of Niklaus in Swiss German is the same as in Standard German, i.e. clearly with a "k", not a "ch." However, the short form, Klaus in Standard German, is "Chlaus" in Swiss German. Why "Samichlaus," actually a contraction of Sankt Niklaus, has a "ch" is beyond me.

Coca Cola having invented the red and white Santa Claus outfit is an urban legend that has been debunked many times. That look was very popular already decades before Coca Cola launched its campaign in the early 1930s. Coca Cola just cemented that image even more, and, of course, contributed a lot to infesting the rest of the world with it.
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