Figure from the Praettigau.

The Cavadürli-Samichlaus

Cavadürli Samichlaus
The fairy tale of Santa Claus, who lives in a hut somewhere in the forest, is probably only believed by the youngest. Think again! Recently, I was proven wrong when I got lost in the deep, dark forest above Schiers in search of a subject for a special photo and suddenly found myself standing in front of a small hut. Smoke was billowing out of the chimney, so I decided to knock and ask for directions.

Text and photo: Marietta Kobald,

And now I am sitting here at a table, amazed and incredulous opposite an older man with a long white beard, bushy eyebrows and a green pointed cap on his head. Once again he confirms what he told me standing in front of the door: "I am the Samichlaus, preziser dr Cavadürli-Samichlaus". That he is Santa Claus is only indicated by his beautifully curled white beard. Neither his blue Helly Hansen jacket, nor his Bündnertuch pants, nor his worn-out slippers seem to me to be typical of Santa Claus. No red velvet coat with a fluffy white collar is to be seen in the small, simply furnished hut. "My sister Anna washed it too hot for me, so the black workday coat will have to do for this year," he explains. And anyway, he can't work here in this garb, he prefers it simple and practical. He says and bends over the thick book in front of him, turns a page and begins to write with the freshly sharpened pencil. "My memory has suffered badly, so I have to write down everything I was supposed to say to the families on December 6, good and not so good.

A hot cup of tea

A little later, I gratefully accept the offered glass of hot lime blossom tea. He himself holds his big cup by dipping his thumb into the hot liquid and promptly burns it. Unfortunately, that was the last cup with a handle, until yesterday. "I am just a bit scatterbrained with my 80 years on the hump, there is now and then something to break".  

A small fire crackles in the small wooden stove and exudes a cozy warmth; a barley soup with two fine Prättigau house sausages is simmering on it. "My favorite dish, it doesn't require much work and is still filling," he says and invites me to lunch.

Never in my life have I had the pleasure of such a wonderful barley soup. But he leaves the fux, the bread cut, to me. "My teeth are not so good anymore, I usually feed the fux to the squirrels," says Santa Claus, gets up and starts washing up in a plastic basin.

Bathroom without running water

He doesn't have running water here in Cavadürli, but fetches it in a bucket from the nearby ravine. Of course, I now want to know where he has his bathroom. "Bathroom?" he asks, laughing loudly and opening a narrow door. "An outhouse is my toilet, another plastic basin is my lavabo, and I can take a shower about once every two weeks when I drop off the dirty underpants and socks at Sister Anna's," he explains to me. All of this, he says, is probably why he can't find any new blood here at Cavadürli. "The young guys today are no longer willing to live and work up here in the forest under these conditions." Yet, he explains, he even has a telephone that connects him with his colleagues from Prättigau. Yes, this monstrosity stands here next to me on the table, from army surplus, with a crank and battery operated.

"Cell phone reception? No, there is not here". Says, grabs a brush and some cane holsters and goes outside. "Shoe shining is not my favorite activity, but wet feet are not healthy either," says Santa, brushing the dirt off the special wooden-soled boots and rubbing them vigorously with a beeswax paste.

A big cup?

Later, over coffee, he tells me about his job, which still gives him great pleasure. "The shining children's eyes when they realize that I am not the bad man they feared, the beautiful sayings they recite to me and the imaginative drawings I receive, that is worth working a few more years".
I would have had many more questions, but Santa Claus said that now he had to get back to the register of sins, there was not much time left until December 6. Of course he showed me the way out of the forest. What a question, otherwise you would not have received this insight into the life of the Cavadürli Samichlaus. Apropos Schüsseli and burnt thumb, - does anyone of you perhaps have a large cup in stock, with handle? I think Santa Claus would certainly enjoy it. No, no, I won't tell you the way to him, I promised! To be handed in at Prättigau Tourism with the note "For the Cavadürli Samichlaus".

Barley soups recipe

For those who want to recreate the fine barley soup from Samichlaus, here is the recipe for the soup.

Download recipe (German)