He’ll be delivering treats to the houses of Luxembourg, but how much do we really know about Kleeschen? City Savvy interviews the man behind the beard.
1. Who are you, anyway?
Who am I? Well, I am a very, very old man but I still look good for my age, don’t I? My job is to take care of all the children. From February to November, my angels come down to earth to visit and observe the children. Every angel takes care of a special child and studies its behaviour. At the end of every weekend, each angel has to write down a report of their child. It’s at that moment my job starts! I read all the reports very, very carefully; week by week.
In October, together with my Houseker, I go to the houses and schools in person. I note good behaviour, whilst he writes down their bad behaviour. Around the 15th of November, the Houseker and I go on personal visits to the children who deserve or need it. That means, that we visit the children who have been exemplary during the whole year, but also the children ‘on the edge’.
On the one hand, we congratulate the children for the good things they did; on the other, we call their attention to the things they didn’t do as well as they should. So my goal is to keep the good children on the right track and to bring back the ones who went astray.
2. What makes you different from Santa?
Both Santa and I are known for wearing red clothes and bringing presents. But these are really the only things we have in common. The big difference between me and Santa is that I am a protector of all the children and my interest is in the welfare of the kids.
I seek dialogue with the children. I want them to understand that friendship, family, honesty, motivation, health and having fun are the important values in life. And, of course, I hope that they will keep all these good values for the rest of their days.
As Santa does it, I bring presents to the kids, but for me, the presents are not the most important part of my job, even if it is the best part for the kids.
3. How many languages do you speak?
I need to speak all the languages that the children of Luxembourg speak; that’s an awful lot! I knew all the main languages spoken here, such as German, French, Portuguese, English and of course Luxemburgish. But i needed to learn new languages for children who live in our country, like Spanish, Croatian, Swedish and even Chinese. And I don’t stop learning new languages, because every year children of other nationalities enter the country and I want to meet them.
4. Do you enjoy your job? What’s your favourite bit?
I can’t imagine a better job than mine. I mean, I’ve been doing it for more than 400 years now and I couldn’t manage that if I didn’t love it!
My favourite bit is when I stand in front of a child and that I can see their wide-eyed wonder. I know that most of them have waited days, weeks, even years to meet me. So when the day finally comes, I know that they are ready to listen to what I have to tell them.
This moment is very important for me too; I have to be convincing during my speech!
5. What do you do during the other months of the year?
The 6th of December is my last working day. So, the following day, I relax at home with my Houseker and then we go off for holidays.
We both like beaches with lots of sun, cocktails and relaxing music. Of course, we don’t forget our angels, who helped us during the whole year! I like to go snorkelling in the clear ocean water, while my Houseker likes to practice “body pump” on the beach.
For New Year’s Eve, we go back home and then on to winter sports. I tend to do a lot of mountain-skiing during the day; the Houseker tries to impress tourists on his snowboard and always finish up at the “apres-ski”. Late in the evening, we meet at our hotel room, watch a movie together and then go to sleep.
6. You and the Houseker sound… close. How do you get on with him?
I could not do my job without him! We are like Tom and Jerry or Laurel and Hardy. We don’t always have the same opinion and sometimes I quarrel with him, but we always make up over a glass of ‘heavenly Schnaps’.
While I am the “good cop” and only tell the kids the positive things, he is the “bad cop” and tells the negative things which the kids dont’t like to hear. But he does it well and I am happy that he does it because it is not always easy to be the bad guy, who the kids are afraid of.
7. How many children have been good this year in Luxembourg?
The fact is that ALL children are basically good. Some of them like to play tricks or to be cheeky or rude from time to time, but it is my job to reach out to these children and to explain to them that they should not do it. Most of the kids will listen to me and change their behaviour. So I am proud of nearly all the children of Luxembourg this year!
All photos provided by Kleeschen (also known as Misch Torres) and taken by Yves Kortum.