Another Claus is coming to town

Long after Santa Claus has come and gone for Christmas, the Swiss welcome another "Claus" to help them usher in the new year.

Early in the morning, on the eve of the first day of the Julian calendar, men and boys - no women are allowed - take over the streets of many Swiss towns, dressed as the Klausen.

The mythological figure is said to represent what is beautiful in the world, the forest and nature, among other things.

This Silvesterchlaus, or New Year Claus, in the town of Waldstatt, in Switzerland, was forced to hold on to his hat as he trudged in the heavy winds yesterday to offer his New Year wishes to the farmers in the region, as did many other Klausen in the area.

The magnificently dressed men usually march in single file from house to house, tolling giant cowbells and yodelling - to wish residents a prosperous new year.

The act of visiting and singing is known as "schelli" in the local dialect. Residents often welcome the Klausen with mulled wine and food, perhaps as a way of giving thanks to the Klausen for making the arduous trek to bring them good tidings in freezing temperatures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Another Claus is coming to town'. Print Edition | Subscribe