Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Singing Christmas trees and Santa's evil sidekick!

Just me in day to day attire!

I currently feel like I am living in a Christmas card. All I need is a little Robin Red Breast to be following me around, sitting on snow filled tree branches. There is a certain romance attached to snow Decembers, and I must say that in Zurich, the snow has made it beautiful.

Unlike the UK, the snow has not caused too much trouble. One or two trains have been delayed a little, but the busses, trams and cars are still flying around the city. The drivers here seem to have not noticed the snow at all, zooming around, accelerating around corners, breaking hard at Zebra crossings. (Not quite Ghana driving, but it doesn't fill me with the upmost of confidence!) (Although, I am yet to start an accident count here!)

The last few weeks has been quite nice. I have been attempting to learn German. I am in a German class surrounded by Spanish speakers. (and one Turkish speaker) An interesting group of international people, in Switzerland with their spouses, or looking for work. I have joined the ranks of job searchers here, looking for something to tide me over whilst marketing Yevu Volunteers. (Still looking for writing jobs, so if you need something written, definitely contact me!) ( if you want to volunteer)

Me and SamiChlaus
With Christmas on the horizon, I have had a chance to sample a few different traditions here. On the 6th of December, it is St Nicholas day. This is the day where Swiss people attempt to mentally scar their children for the rest of their lives. They invite a guy called Schmutzli (a friend of Santa Clause (or Samichlaus)) into their houses. He has a list, given to him by Santa, of bad things the children have done over the year. The child must greet Schmutzli politely, say a poem to him, and then hope that he doesn't pack them away in his sack. If they are lucky and not taken away in his large sack, they may receive a gift. If I ever have a child, I must scare him (or her) in this manner. I must also be prepared that I may be paying for psychological care for that child for some time after. (see below for a picture of Schmutzli and Samichlaus)

I met Samichlaus and Schmutzli in the city just before seeing a Christmas tree stage filled up with a church choir. The snow was falling whilst the choir serenaded us. Unfortunately, the robin was no where to be seen, or else it could have been the perfect winter moment.

The snow also enables other kinds of fun. From eating hot soup (homemade and not Heinz!) on the balcony to hurtling down a mountain/hill on a sledge. It may seem like pure joyful fun, (and it is fun) but it is certainly not always joyful. With two on a wooden sledge, when you hit the icy patches you scorch down the curvy (sometimes perilous) track, at a considerable speed. The only thing to stop you smashing into other sledders (many of them kids) is your feet. Either by digging them into the ice to change direction, or slamming them into the back of whoever is in your way. (The second method is far easier!) I came out of it safely though, with only a bruised bottom for my troubles. A small price to pay, for a lot of fun!

Me and a usually blacked up Schmutzli!

A singing Christmas tree, of course!
Bouncing from Ghana, to the UK, to Switzerland is not a smooth ride. There are certain culture shocks that hit you every time. Whilst moving back to the UK came with certain difficulties, spending time in Zurich has not always been smooth riding either. I am the uncouth Englishman here, with slightly worse eating habits, and bathroom habits that the Swiss appear to turn their nose up at. (so to speak!) I am getting to grips with the culture, (although something will definitely not change) and through my German lessons, I hope to be in a position to one day apply for the job of Santa's scary arse helper Schmutzli!

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