Or "schöni Wienachte" as they say here in Switzerland!
Having had a crisp, clear December here in Zurich, Zoë and I have been out and about making the most of some of the festive activities the city and the surrounding area have to offer.
From admiring the Swarovski crystal christmas tree (they love a bit of decadence in Züri) and one which has singing children sat in it (much more fun than baubles, see pic below) to meandering among Christmas markets and glugging down Glühwein, it's a great place for getting in the festive mood.
There is, however, one tradition that left me feeling scared as a turkey at this time of year...
If I were to ask you who Father Christmas hangs around with, who would you say? Rudolph? Mrs Claus? Some hard working elves?
Well, in Switzerland, and some other European countries as I understand it, Sami Claus is accompanied by his own personal muscle. The Schmutzli.
With a blackened face and tattered dark clothes, Schmutzli is a child's worse nightmare. Not only does he look sinister, but he is also a strict disciplinarian.
In the grottos at home, Santa simply asks whether you have been good. Here, in a country where decisions are made only by committee, there is no such easy way to guarantee presents under the tree.
You see, Schmutzli knows if you have been naughty or nice. And, if you have been bad, he administers a bit of a thrashing with a broom of twigs!
Well, to avoid Zoë getting stressed out and inflicting some sort of Schmutzli-like punishment on me, I'd better get my last bits of packing sorted ahead of our flight to England later today. Really looking forward to spending time with friends and family and eating an inordinate amount. So, all that remains to say is:
Ganz schöni Wienachte und an guäte Rutsch is Neue Jaar wünscht eui allne!
(Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!)
Mike & Zoë
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.