Schmutzli and Samichlaus
In Switzerland on the 6th December "Samichlaus and Schmutzli" pay the children a visit.
"Samichlaus" is a good figure, wears red, and talks to the children about all the good things they have done throughout the year, offering the children nuts, chocolates and clementines.
The children usually have to say a verse to him before they receive anything though.
The bread figure in the picture below is a "Grittibaenz" and is also associated with today.
"Schmutzli" on the other hand, is Samichlaus's alter-ego, dressed in black, with black beard and hair, he offers the "naughty" children nothing besides a shaking of his birch rod which he carries with him.
Hubby doesn't really have fond memories of his "Samichlaus" Visit as he recalls being put into Schmutzlis sack as a small child and being carried off. (He was pretty naughty!)
He said from then on on the 6th of December he would hide, under the table, under the bed, where-ever he would fit, because he knew who was probably coming to visit him :)
This tradition dates back to around the 11th century where St. Nicholas of Myra was known to have spread kindness and gifts to the children, isn't Europe so wonderfully full of these rich traditions.
Regula @ Babajezas Wundertuete asked some questions in the tradition of today and so I will answer them.