Gauss-Advent Calendar: Secret Santa
by Tina Metschke
A custom that originates more in the Nordic region in the run-up to Christmas is the so-called Secret Santa (Wichteln). For example, among work colleagues, fellow students, flatmates, friends or family members, each member of the group is given a small gift according to a predetermined system.
Here are the two most popular types:
The term “Wichteln” comes from the word “Wichtel”, a Nordic mythical figure who secretly and invisibly does good. In some places it is the custom to secretly place the gift in the person’s place and not to reveal who the giver was.
I know of another variation from my circle of friends. People arrange to meet for a Christmas get-together. Beforehand, you decide what kind of Secret Santa you want to do. One thing is always the same: each person buys or makes one gift and receives one gift. This is decided by drawing lots: either one draws the name in advance and can thus adapt the package, or one brings one’s present to the meeting. There, all the gifts are distributed on the table and raffled off directly. With this variant, however, you find out who the gift was from, as you hand it over directly.
A very fun alternative is the “Scrap Secret Santa”.
As the name suggests, a lot of effort is put into these trifles, to be particularly funny and useless. However, agree beforehand not to give away any rubbish! You can also draw lots again to give out the presents, or you can roll the dice. Put all the presents on the table. Whoever rolls a 6 may take one of the packages. Again, the rule is: bring one gift, take one gift.
The custom of Secret Santa is known in many parts of the world. Each country, region, family or group has its own variations of rules. For example, you can agree on a certain motto, such as giving only plants, or only blue objects, or only healthy things. The possibilities are endless.
However, what is always the same in my experience is that it is about small things, not expensive Christmas surprises, and that the decision about who gives whom a gift is taken by chance.
And it is a lot of fun!