The 6 December is a special day in Switzerland, this is when Saint Nicholas, or Samichlaus as he is locally known, is celebrated. He is the precursor to Father Christmas and announces the official beginning of the Christmas season.
Dating back to the middle ages, Samichlaus is known for travelling with his companion the chimney sweeper Schmutzli. Known as the children’s bishop he still goes from house to house asking children whether they have been good (in which case it’s clementines and nuts for them) or bad (in which case they theoretically get thrown into Schmutzli’s bag).
All of the local parishes offer the possibility to have Samichlaus come to your home. You can give your child’s name in advance and specifics regarding good behaviour and things that could be improved on. This year has finished but look out for it next year: http://www.kathluzern.ch.
There are, however, also countless processions taking place around 6 December, where Samichlaus is accompanied by Triecheln, bell ringers and Geisselchlopfer, whip crackers.
Another regional traditional procession is the Küssnacht Klausjagd. In addition to having Samichlaus and his helpers parade, this procession involves 200 Iffelen, which are intricate head pieces lit by candles. This year it will take place on December 5 at 20:15. http://www.klausjagen.ch We highly recommend that you go there by public transport as the roads leading in and out of Küssnacht are closed down for hours.
So do not fear the sound of cracked whips, nor the din of cowbells in your neighborhood. The whole town is getting ready for Samichlaus!