Switzerland faces a Santa shortage, Samichlaus guilds confirm

Switzerland faces a Santa shortage, Samichlaus guilds confirm

With the ongoing shortage of workers in Switzerland continuing to occupy the headlines, a new report has revealed that even the supernatural are not immune. According to guilds and societies across the country, Switzerland is facing a Santa Claus (Samichlaus) shortage.

Santa Claus forced to ditch appointments in Switzerland

Speaking to 20 Minuten, the Santa Claus Guild in Bern admitted that they are completely swamped with requests for Santa to attend Christmas markets and other events, so much so that they "had to cancel” on a few engagements. They explained that many of the Santas “who have been very active for years are slowly reaching an age where they no longer want to make so many visits,” and that there are not enough new, younger people wanting to take up the mantle.

Jürg Thrier, president of the Samichlaus Switzerland interest group, told 20 Minuten that for years Santa guilds across the 26 Swiss cantons did not admit new members because they were full. “Now the old Santa Clauses are slowly retiring and the young and middle-aged people are missing”, he noted, explaining that many do not want to commit to being Santa during the holidays.

Santa societies resort to to fill roles

The shortage has become such an issue that Santa societies from Zurich, Bern and St. Gallen launched an ad campaign with in order to attract new recruits. So far, the scheme has only coaxed one willing individual to the red cloak and mitre.

Another problem is the training - yes, you heard that right - that is required to become Samichlaus, with the Santa Guild in Bern explaining that trainee Santas usually shadow a trained professional as Schmutlzi for a year. “We only have limited capacity to train those interested. If four interested parties come forward in one year, it may well be that we have to put two of them off until next year,” they explained.

Samichlaus guilds debate allowing women to be Santa

To solve the problem, a group of Saint Nicholas societies met recently to contemplate allowing women to portray Schmutzli, as the character does not talk. Thrier went one step further, telling the newspaper that “women with a deep voice could also easily take on the role of Santa Claus.” 

However, he conceded that many of the older associations and guilds have already dismissed his idea, with the Bern guild arguing that the voice plays a crucial part in portraying Santa and that he should traditionally be portrayed as an old man. "The opinions are divided, but women Santa Clauses would certainly be a solution to the staff shortage,” Thrier countered.

Thumb image credit: Irina Katalevskaia /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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