Life gets busy, especially while preparing for a three-week trip home for Christmas. That's my excuse, anyway, for slacking off on this whole blogging thing. So here's a recap of some of the fun that happens in Switzerland during the Christmas season...
Snow started coming down in early December, and it kept on coming. Because they're used to that kind of thing here, roads and train tracks were constantly being cleared, so there were no days off of school.
However, I found that snow is much more enjoyable (even without the time off) when I do not have a car. No snow to clear off, no icy roads to worry about, and no cold car to sit in as it verrry slowly warms up. Just a walk to the bus as normal.
And since there is very little wind, the snow came down slowly and it stayed put. It stayed on tree branches, on rooftops, and even on fences. The constant snowing refreshed the old snow, so it stayed pristine and white. Unfortunately it was also slippery due to a lack of proper snow boots, but it was beautiful!
Talk about a winter wonderland. For some strange reason I find myself with very few pictures, but I assure you it was gorgeous!
In the town of Küssnacht, Samichlaus visits in a parade on December 5. We met him (he looks like a bishop Santa) on our way in, and my friend even got a picture with him. We got some food and some glühwein and then stood with hundreds of others waiting for the parade to begin. Somehow we ended up in the font row with a great view. I thought this was great...until the men with whips came out.
The whips made loud cracking sounds, and they orchestrated it so that rhythms were created. However, with no physical barrier between us and them and nowhere to back up, the whips came terrifyingly close. At one point I even saw a woman's jacket hit by one. She, however, wasn't fazed. Although I kept thinking that I was going to be hit, the effect was really cool.
After a while of this, at the sound of the last whip, all of the street lights went out simultaneously. We were herded off to the side in the darkness in order to make way for the parade, and we ended up still being right in front. Leading the parade were more whippers, heralding the arrival of Samichlaus (these were actually more worrisome than the others because now it was dark and we could only hear the whips, not see them. The whippers couldn't see anything either. However, happily we all left unscathed).
Then came a procession of men and boys in white robes, each with a huge, lighted bishop's hat on his head. These were made from cardboard and intricately designed. Then colored, transparent paper was put on the inside and it was lit from within with candles. It gave it a incredible stained-glass look. They were gorgeous and ranged from about 2-5 feet high. They paraded and danced past, and I was pleasantly surprised that no one fell over.
This is, unfortunately, when my camera died.
Next came Samichlaus, accompanied by his Schmutzlis, men dressed in hooded robes whose purpose I don't really know.
The next part explained quite well why a coworker suggested that we wear earplugs.
Hundreds (they just kept coming) of men, each carrying a huge cowbell that bounced against their knees in unison as they walked by. Loud is an understatement. After them came about 200 more men, this time blowing cow horns, also in unison. Traditionally, all of the noise was meant to banish darkness and evil.
By the time we left, my ears were ringing and my toes were numb, but it was well worth it!
Conclusion: Christmas season is Switzerland is fantastic.
Next up comes snowboarding season!
Kelly is an American teacher living in Switzerland and enjoying everything the country has to offer.