A fun tradition associated with the pre-Christmas/Advent season, and particularly St. Nikolaus Day on December 6, in this region is the “Grättimann,” also known as “Grittibänz” (literally translated as “man with spread legs”). You may have already noticed them in the bakery section of your local food store. These little men are made from yeast dough and decorated with raisins, sugar, and in some cases a thin chocolate bar. They are thought to represent St. Nicholas, but you can get them from November through the end of December.

It is also fun to make them yourself, especially if you have children. Here is a simple recipe:

Recipe for Grättimann (makes about 10)

Mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Mix in butter in chunks. Warm milk and water together and mix yeast into the warm liquid.
Press a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in the warm liquid. Knead dough until smooth and shiny. Cover and leave in a warm place until its volume doubles.
Dive the dough into 10 portions. Make an oval out of each portion, shape a head, cut the bottom of the oval with scissors to shape the legs, and slit the sides to make some arms. Decorate as desired or use additional dough to add a hat, scarf, or whatever you fancy. Place on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and paint with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180-200 degrees.