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Showing posts from November, 2011

Christmas Calendars in Switzerland

It's less than a month till Christmas and the streets and stores are filled with lights and glittering decorations. It's the time of the year you drink hot wine with spices and eat home made cookies. In Switzerland another Christmas tradition will be starting soon, the tradition of Christmas calendars.

What are Swiss Christmas Calendars?  In Switzerland, Christmas calendars are used during the Christmas season starting from December 1st until December 24th. It's the children who enjoy them most although some grown ups can be just as excited about them.

Traditionally, the calendars are Christmas themed pictures where you can open a window every day and there is a picture hidden underneath. Nowadays, there are also calendars featuring characters from animated movies or pop stars.. Some calendars also have little chocolates instead of pictures hidden underneath the windows. Those are the calendars you can buy at a store but the best Christmas calendars are home made!

Growing …

7 Keyword Questions Answered

I've been blogging for quite a while now and overall the experience has been great. The writing is fun and I find myself on the watch for more uniquely Swiss things and traditions to write about. I'm sure there are still plenty out there!

Also, like most bloggers out there, I've been checking site traffic regularly lately and found interesting keywords that led visitors to this blog. I decided to answer some of the 'questions' asked directly or indirectly through these keywords.




Does Migros sell alcohol? - No, Migros itself does not sell alcohol or tobacco products. This has been the policy of Migros founder Duttweiler because he believed that the sale of health damaging products should not be supported by cheap prices. However, some supermarkets owned by Migros do sell alcohol, for example Denner.Where can I order Rivella? - If you don't live in Switzerland you can order Rivella (only the red version though) at the Swiss Food Store.What foods can you eat with …

In the Light of Beetroot Lanterns

It's been a beautiful fall this year. Now, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the days are getting shorter and shorter. It's once more the season of cozy evenings by the fire or hot punch on the ice skating rink.

Traditionally, these first days of winter mark the beginning of the Christmas season in Switzerland. It also the time when the traditional beetroot lantern processions, which we call 'Räbeliechtliumzug' in Swiss German, take place. As soon as it gets dark, kindergarten and primary school kids walk around town with lanterns called 'Räbeliechtli' which they carved from beetroots. And no, this is not a Swiss version of Halloween despite the obvious similarities. Let me explain.

Origins of Räbeliechtli The tradition of making lanterns from beetroots has its origins in the celebration of the last harvest of the year. Beetroots were amongst the last vegetables harvested and I assume that is why they were originally chosen for this craft. In the circle…

How to bake a Swiss Rösti

Imagine this: It's morning in Switzerland and you are very hungry. And - adding to your sorrow - you discover that your fridge is not exactly full. As you go through the content of your fridge you consider possible breakfast or lunch scenarios:
Yoghurt with cerealTomatoes Various condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, etc,) Pickles Except for the first option, I highly doubt any of these things will make a good breakfast or lunch. Luckily, most people in Switzerland always have a few potatoes in store and these will definitely help make a good meal. Let me introduce a tasty and very Swiss breakfast dish: Rösti or Röschti (pronounced [ˈrøːʃti]).



What is Rösti? Rösti is a tasty dish very similar to potato pancakes or latkes. It is made from grated raw or cooked potatoes and baked in a pan until it is golden and just a bit crunchy. You can add cubes of bacon, grated cheese or even eggs to the mixture to give it some extra taste. It can be eaten by itself or as a side dish to meat dishes lik…

Growing up with a Swiss Army Knife

Like many other Swiss adults, I grew up not only with the songs of Mani Matter but also with my very own Swiss Army pocket knife. I remember my dad teaching me and my siblings to carve a branch of a tree into a beautiful walking stick or create a bow with a flexible but strong branch.

Although I haven't carved a wooden stick with a knife in a very long time, having done it many times as a child definitely enriched my childhood. The sweat and blood - and sometimes tears - shed to create a work of art with a simple knife were definitely well spent.

Yes, I must have cut myself several times, slipping the blade off the branch and into my finger, arm or leg. Luckily, the memory of those cuts has disappeared into a foggy cloud labeled 'childhood forgettables'. Is that a uniquely Swiss childhood memory? Probably not. However, there is a definite connection between good pocket knives and Switzerland.
Switzerland and Army Knives I believe the Swiss Army Knife is be the most famous …

A visit to the Glasi in Hergiswil

Once in a while I have friends from the abroad visiting me in Switzerland. Like any host, I usually want to to show them Switzerland from its best side. At the same time, I like to avoid traveling long distances to get to my destination. That's why I usually take my friends to central Switzerland.

Lucerne is only about a 45 minute drive from Zurich and if you climb one of the mountains around lake Lucerne, for example the Rigi or Pilatus, you have an exellent view of the Alps. Also the city of Lucerne is quite nice and always good for a stroll along the river or the lakeside. Indeed, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Lucerne to keep you busy a day or two.

Visiting the Glass Factory in Hergiswil A personal favorite of mine is the glass factory in Hergiswil, called 'Glasi Hergiswil'. Especially on a rainy day or in the cold of winter this is a perfect place to visit.

There are several fun activities to do in the various buildings of the Glasi Hergiswil facto…