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Lovely as an angel, The Christkindli has supplanted St. Nicholas in much of Switzerland as the bearer of holiday gifts. Legends tell us that this sweet-faced child travels from house to house in her own little sleigh drawn by six reindeer. Inside she sits, surrounded by decorated fir trees luscious foods, and toys for good boys and girls.
Santa Claus is not completely forgotten in Switzerland, how- ever. In the country he often heads a parade of school boys who walk from home to home, gathering gifts and donations. After all houses have been visited, the group takes all the gifts to their local town hall, where they are distributed fairly to all the children in the vicinity.
It is traditional in Switzerland for every family to have its own holiday tree, around which everyone gathers to sing carols. Reading St. Luke's story of the birth of Christ is also a major tradition, as is enjoying the glorious Swiss scenery as they visit friends and neighbors to share Christmas cookies. It is said that to enter a home at holiday time and not eat something steals Christmas from that household, so sampling goodies is a big part of the Swiss holiday tradition.
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