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Swiss Christmas guide: How to celebrate Christmas the Swiss way

Every country in the world has its own Christmas customs. People nurture their traditions and teach their children in every generation. Switzerland, with its rich Christmas tradition, is no exception. To celebrate Christmas the Swiss way, we’ve decided to present you with a special Swiss Christmas guide.

Of course, there are some universal things, such as presents, lights, and a Christmas tree. But besides that, there are unique Christmas activities and terms that we will discuss thoroughly. Hence, let’s go deep into the Swiss Christmas guide.

Adventsfenster (Advent Windows)

Similar to different Christmas calendars, Adventsfenster is used to count down the days to Christmas Eve. This custom is common in villages and smaller towns in Switzerland. What is it all about? In a village, there should be 24 people who decorate one or more of their windows with the Christmas theme. Every evening, from 1st to 24th December, one window gets opened. Each window has to be closed until it’s time to get publicly revealed.

People gather before every window to see the window opening and decoration. Every window has to stay lit until Christmas Eve, when the last 24th window gets revealed. Even though this custom is not usual in every single part of the country, it is still a vital part of the Swiss Christmas guide.

swiss-christmas_2023

Adventskranz (Advent Wreath)

Adventskranz counting is slightly different – it counts the last four weeks before Christmas Eve. It represents a decorated, circular wreath with four large, fastened candles. The first candle has to be lit on Sunday, four weeks before Christmas Eve. After that, every other Sunday is reserved for the next candle. There is also another custom called Rabeliechtli – small parades of beetroot lanterns. Children carve them at school, mostly with their teachers, and then walk around with them while singing songs through their villages.

Samichlaus

Samichlaus is one of the essential pieces of the Swiss Christmas guide. In most countries around the world, Santa Claus comes on 24th December. Samichlaus, or Swiss Santa, comes on the 6th of December with a massive bag of chocolates and fruits to share with everyone. In the evening, Samichlaus visits every family with his helper – Schmutzli. He knocks on the door, and people invite him to the house.

Then, he calls out everyone and gives them a report on how they behave this year. After the report, children can improve their standing with Christmas recitations and Santa poems. A good poem provides a handful of treats, while no poem “means” that a kid will get carried off with Santa into his bag. Of course, it is only a motivation for kids to learn more and more poems and recitations. If you don’t know any of these recitations, you can easily learn this one:

Sami Niggi Näggi (Santa Claus)

Hinterem Ofe stecki (I’m behind the oven)

Gib mer Nuss und Bire (if you’ll give me nuts and pears)

de chumi weder füre. (I’ll come out.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nCJDxMW82c

Cookie baking

Almost every family in Switzerland, especially those with children, will make and decorate Christmas cookies. It is a traditional Christmas event where everyone participates. Every part of the country has its traditional cookies. Tirggel honey biscuits are from Zurich, Lackerli is from Basel, and aniseed cookies are from the Aargau canton.

In German-speaking parts (nowadays even further), the most popular are cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne), Brunsli, and Mailanderli. Rum balls and Swiss truffles are also popular nowadays, especially as gifts.

Making gifts and decorating a tree

The Swiss Christmas guide is never complete without unique gifts. You can either make them or choose some of the best Swiss products and give them to your loved ones. Every Swiss family is, in one way or another, entirely into this ritual. Of course, kids are super ecstatic when this part of Christmas preparation comes to the table. Many families also have a deep tradition of making their own tree decorations.

The decoration of the fir tree should be on 24th December. However, according to tradition, kids should not see it until evening. Tree candles are super popular across every part of Switzerland.

swiss christmas guide

Having a fondue

Since there is no traditional Christmas dinner, many families choose fondue chinoise. They dip thin slices of meat into a pot instead of cheese and eat them with vegetables and sauces. Each part of the country has its own ways of preparation, but it is less critical. The only important thing is that this is a pleasant meal that everyone enjoys.

Swiss Christmas Guide – Conclusion

Celebrating Christmas like the Swiss people doesn’t have to involve every single custom, of course. An excellent family atmosphere is a crucial part of a Swiss Christmas guide.

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