Skip to main content


Getting ready for Christmas in Switzerland

The first Sunday of the advent season has already passed and tomorrow those of us lucky enough to have a Christmas calendar will start opening it's doors or gifts. Christmas decorations have been up for weeks and Christmas songs are playing everywhere. It's time for celebrating the birth of Christ. Swiss Christmas Traditions Every country and region has their unique Christmas traditions and customs. In Peru, where I currently live, children are invited to a chocolatada in the week before Christmas eve. There they play games, sing songs, eat pannettone and drink hot chocolate. Hence the name 'chocolatada'. It's a loud and fun event that contrast quite strongly to the more pensive and meditative Christmas events I remember from my childhood in Switzerland. I don't know which I like better - they are different but both nice! So, what traditions for the holiday season do we have in Switzerland? Here are some I've written about in more detail before: Candle dippi
Recent posts

How to Make 1st of August Buns

It's coming up soon: the  Swiss national holiday 1st of August . Fire works, picnics, brunches, speeches by politicians and warm summer weather will hopefully all be part of this fun holiday this year. Origins of 1st of August Celebrations in Switzerland Traditionally, the 1st of August celebrations in Switzerland commemorate the founding of the original Swiss federation by the "original cantons" (= Urkantone) Uri, Schwyz, Nidwalden and Obwalden in the first half of August 1291. Note that there are only three Urkantone since Nidwalden and Obwalden are the two halves of one canton called Unterwalden.   However, this date does not mark Swiss independence but rather the start of a the several century long formation of the Swiss nation. In fact, it was made a national holiday in as late as 1891 more than six centuries after the fact. 1st of August Bun  How 1st of August is celebrated today Although it is nice to remember the beginnings of Switzerland and to thin

10 Fun Things to Do on a Sunny Day in Switzerland

Summer will soon be here! Finally! I'm sure many people here in Switzerland would agree after this long winter and pretty rainy spring season. People will walk around in t-shirts and shorts again (whether that's always a good thing is up to you) and public pools and beaches around our lakes will be overflowing with families and children playing in and around the water. Indeed, it is time to go outside to enjoy the beautiful Swiss Summer because it will be gone soon enough. Summer - rupert illek  /  A few years ago, I wrote a post about fun things to do in Zurich on a summer day  with 10 fun and cheap activities to do around Zurich in good weather. Now, I would like to share another 10 fun outdoor activities but this time with ideas that apply to pretty much all of Switzerland and possibly other countries as well! 10 Fun Things to Do on a Sunny Day in Switzerland Go hiking : Hiking is one of Switzerland's most popular sports. You basically need a pair

Sechseläuten in Zurich

In a few weeks it's happening again. On Monday April 14th 2023 , the inner city of Zurich will be closed off for any traffic for the annual Sechseläuten . What annoys car drivers and people doing business in the city center is the joy of anyone working or going to school in Zurich or a neighboring town simply because they get an additional free day (or free half-a-day) to enjoy the festivities. But what on earth is this mysterious Sechseläuten and why do only the people of Zurich celebrate it? A why is there a big large snowman and a huge bonfire involved in all this? the Böögg What is Sechseläuten? Sechseläuten is a spring holiday unique to the city of Zurich . The rest of Switzerland and even most towns and places in the canton of Zurich do not celebrate this holiday and no one gets time off to go and participate. It is really a holiday that belongs to the city in a sense that it has its roots in the medieval city structure with guilds and other communities even though i

Seegfrörni - When Lake Zurich Froze Over

Imagine a weather forecast for Switzerland that predicts it's gonna be cold. Very cold. Real freezing. So cold that eventually not only the small ponds and waters but even the big lakes in Switzerland will freeze over. I know, that would be hard to believe when all you get are mild winters? But remember, it hasn't always been this way. Switzerland has seen it's share of very cold winters not so long ago.  The 1962/1963 Seegfrörni in Zurich During the winter of 1962/1963 it was so cold in Switzerland that Lake Zurich froze over! In Swiss German this phenomenon is called ' Seegfrörni ' which simply means 'freezing over of a lake'. For a lake as big as Lake Zurich (about 88  km 2  large and 136m deep) that's pretty impressive. My mom was actually living in the Zurich area in those years and the frozen lake is one of the most vivid and fondest memories of her childhood.  Frozen Lake Zurich - Archive of Stadt Zürich Just imagine, instead of taking

How to Eat Cake in Switzerland

One thing about Switzerland that certainly plays in its favour is the tasty food - most famously Swiss cheese and Swiss chocolate. Personally, I also think in Switzerland you can find some of world's best breads and pastries. Think about the braided Sunday bread called Zopf and the large variety of Christmas cookies for example. And those are just the tip of the culinary iceberg so to speak. However, today I want to talk about cakes and especially a famous Swiss cake which just happens to be one of my favourites as well. I'll also touch on the unwritten rules you have to follow in order to politely eat cake in Switzerland. Something that is indeed very typical behaviour of Swiss persons . Swiss Carrot Cake - Michaela Schöllhorn  / The Origins of a Swiss Carrot Cake The cake I will talk about is named after the region of Switzerland I grew up in, the canton of Aargau  and is called the Argovian Carrot Cake (in Swiss German: 'Aargauer Rüeblitorte') . I

How to Choose a Seat on a Bus in Switzerland

Swiss Postautos - Sommaruga Fabio  / It's very common in Switzerland to take a bus to work. Since public transportation in Switzerland is quite convenient and punctual this is perfectly fine alternative to driving yourself to work. Of course, public transportation in Switzerland isn't cheap but putting gas into your car is definitely becoming expensive as well plus you get the traffic jams that are very hard to avoid and cost a lot of time and nerves. According to the Swiss Ministry of Statistics almost 30% of working people use public transportation to go to work .  So if you're part of that Swiss group, lets do the math: if you take the bus to and from work and work five days a week, we can safely assume that you ride a bus in Switzerland at least ten times a week . This was true for myself as well for many years as well but I have since completely switched to remote work. An interesting observation While riding the bus to work a few years ago, I observed

A Visit by Swiss Santa

If there is one ingredient of Christmas that has spread all around the globe by now, it's probably the person of Santa Claus, Papa Noël, Père Noël or Father Christmas which are all loosely based on the historic figure of Saint Nicholas . In Switzerland, this red-clothed and white-bearded figure is called ' Samichlaus ' and despite the obvious similarities to the other Santa Claus versions, the Swiss Christmas tradition involving his visit is quite different. Samichlaus & Schmutzli -  Alwin Gasser  / The Swiss Santa Claus Tradition Unlike in the United States or other places around the globe, Santa Claus visits Switzerland not on the 24th but on the 6th of December. He also does not bring gifts but instead carries a huge bag filled with chocolates, peanuts and mandarines for everyone to share. However, he doesn't simply share these sweet treasures with everyone because first, he evaluates every possible recipient. In Switzerland the Christmas gifts