Wednesday, December 5, 2007

St. Nicholas' day: Grittibänz and Samichlas

Tomorrow is St Nikolas' day, which means several things. First, the bread/rolls shaped like little men, called Grittibänz, are everywhere. (Pronounce like Gritty-ban(d)s.) Above is our sample: I tried to shape the dough, then Sonja put in raisins for the eyes and elsewhere, and she painted the finished product with eggyolk so that it would get nice shiny coating upon baking. In case you can't tell, Emilie is holding the Grittibanz by the shawl; above that is the head; below is the shirt covered by raisins. The raisins on the face somehow misaligned during baking. For much nicer samples, use a google-images search for Grittibänz. We also shaped one piece of dough into a turtle, and that one looked much nicer, until Sonja started tearing off the legs off the finished product since she was hungry. At one point, when the four legs were gone but the head and tail remained attached to the body, it surprisingly reminded me of a beaver. Go figure.

The dough is the same dough as is used to make the sunday bread "zopf" that is eaten here - a yeasted dough with butter, barely sweet. (When I went to our local bakery this past Sunday afternoon to get bread for Monday morning, they had almost no regular bread available for buying, everything was just zopf). One recipe is here.

Second, since St Nikolas' day is tomorrow, Samichlas (Sami=Santa, Chlas=klaus) visits the kids and gives them either a bag with chocolates, unshelled nuts, and mandarins, if they were good, or lumps of coal, if they were bad. Apparently the coal tend to be given by Schmutzli, who tends to be covered in coal dust, but I will ask Martin details when he gets back.

At the same cultural center where we made Grittibanz, they had Samichlas today, so we went there again in the afternoon. He had a huge white beard, and was in red clothes. Since apparently all the kids were good, no Schmutzli was present.

Samichlas called the kids one by one. Some got asked if they were good kids. I think I caught something about washing dishes or being nice to a sister. And he also asked them whether they had a rhyme or a song for him. Most did. Sonja was rather unsure of the whole thing, so I had to hold her hand while she went to stand in front of Samichlas. I tried to get her to sing "Schlaf kindli schlaf", a lullaby she knows, but not a single word came out of her mouth. Not even thank you when she got her little bag. Perhaps she was already aware that the bag contained things she does not eat: a mandarin (she only eats canned, refuses fresh), chocolates (I don't know whether she never tried it or whether she tried it and did not like it), and a kind of gingerbread, which she nibbled on for a tiny bit before giving it to me.

1 comment:

Snowbike said...

We had Marijke over for dinner and learned all about Schmutzli a few days ago! Apparently neighbors often arrange for Schmutlzi and/or Samichlas to visit kids at home!

And she told us that Samichlas is a bachelor! No Mrs. Claus?!?