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Showing posts from 2016

How the Swiss Predict the New Year

Lead-pouring on New Year's Eve - Paul-Georg Meister  / What makes us humans different from any kind of god? For one, we're definitely not omnipotent . And secondly, we are also not all-knowing as much as we'd like to think we are! We might know what happened in the past or what is going on today but we have no way of knowing for sure what the future will bring. There are certainly indicators that will point us towards an educated guess but that's how far it goes. Would we like to know what the future brings? I'm not sure. Fact is, there are traditions that reflect this need to know the future in many cultures around the globe. Certainly, the eve of the old year is one of the days that is almost predestined to host some sort of future predicting activity. Like every country, Switzerland has it's own set of New Year's Traditions . Some of them center around food, others focus on the coming new year - like a New Year's Resolution for e

Swiss Quality of Living

Beautiful Switzerland Mercer recently published their 2016 Quality of Living Rankings . Not surprisingly, there are several Swiss cities that appear among the global Top 10 of cities with highest quality of living. I mean, who wouldn't want to live in this beautiful, clean and orderly country?! This year, Zurich wins the contest for highest ranked Swiss city before Geneva. Here is the full Top 10 Cities with highest quality of living: Vienna, Austria Zurich, Switzerland Auckland, New Zealand Munich, Germany Vancouver, Canada Dusseldorf, Germany Frankfurt, Germany Geneva, Switzerland Copenhagen, Denmark Sidney, Australia Another aspect of the Mercery survey covers personal safety for foreigners and their families. In a world full of disputes, safety is definitely an issue to ponder when deciding to move to a foreign country. In terms of personal safety, Switzerland ranks very high . There are three cities in the global Top 10 safest cities. Have a look at the

10 Swiss New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year - Lutz Stallknecht  / True, the tradition of taking a New Year's Resolution isn't specifically Swiss. In fact, it's only one among many Swiss New Year's traditions and celebrations . Around midnight on December 31st, people in Switzerland and all around the world take a moment and promises to improve a certain aspect of their life or behavior in the coming year. For some it is a honest attempt to change something about themselves that they don't like. For others it's simply a part of the New Year's traditions and the actual keeping of the resolution isn't that important. Swiss people are no different that aspect. However, I believe that there are a few trends among the topics of the New Year's Resolutions in Switzerland that are uniquely Swiss. This is what I imagine my fellow Swiss citizens vow to change in their lives this coming year. 10 Swiss New Year's Resolutions* 1. Eat less chocolate - too many

Panettone - I finally baked my own!

This year. Yes, this year I'll finally try myself at baking my own Panettone . This Italian treat has long made it's way into Swiss Christmas traditions and can be bought at any supermarket during the Christmas season. I like Panettone in all it's versions: with or without candied fruits, with or without chocolate chips, and with or without raisins. For this baking experiment I decided to go with a simple  Panettone with a bit of candied lemon and orange only. I used this recipe from and made a dozen Mini-Panettones . I'm sure you'll find plenty of other good recipes in English on the internet as well! Now, I didn't have Panettone molds. This was a spur of the moment baking venture and I had to improvise. Instead of Panettone molds I used simple cupcake molds and they turned out fine. Not as high and airy as the typical Panettone but just as delicious. I even like their crunchy texture on the bottom and sides! Success! straight from the ov

When You Shouldn't Take the Swiss by Their Word

Swiss German is a funny language. Not only are there certain sounds that seem strange to the foreign ear, e.g. the famous "ch" in Chuchichäschtli  or these Swiss German tongue twisters , but there are also quite a few interesting phrases , especially in Swiss German slang. With "interesting" I mean that they seem funny or humorous when considering the literal meaning . A good example of this in English would be "to chicken out" which at first seems funny to non-native speakers. When You Shouldn't Take the Swiss by Their Literal Word I collected a few examples of such funny literal meanings of Swiss German phrases. de Baum azünde (lit. to set fire to the tree, to light the Christmas tree) aschiisse (lit. to shit at, to be mad or annoyed) zämeschiisse (lit. to shit together, to scold someone) umefurze (lit. to fart around, to dawdle or dally) verarsche (lit. to ass (someone), to fool someone) es chüblet (lit. it buckets, it rains heavily) es

5 Swiss Christmas Traditions You Shouldn't Miss

Christmas Cookies - gänseblümchen /  Christmas season is just around the corner and all over Switzerland the streets are full of Christmas lights and decorations. There are certain aspects of Christmas that are pretty universal, e.g. the gifts, the tree and the lights. Yet, every country and region developed it's own style of celebrating this holiday and Switzerland is no exception. However, customs and traditions don't stop at official borders so it is very likely that our nearest neighbors in Austria and Germany have very similar Christmas traditions! 5 Swiss Christmas Traditions If you happen to be in Switzerland during the Christmas season or if you live here, you should take advantage of it and delve into some fun Swiss Christmas activities . If you don't know where to start, here is my list of not-to-miss Swiss Christmas Traditions . Cookie Baking : Yes, almost every Swiss family will bake several batches of Christmas Cookies. There are so many

Five Things I Learned From Five Years of Blogging

Analytics Overview from the last 5 years I've been blogging over five years now. There have been ups and downs along the way but overall I've managed to maintain and even grow an audience for my blog " A Humorous Guide to Switzerland ". Of course, there are things I now think I should have done differently or better not at all but hindsight is always 10/10 and there's nothing better to do with mistakes than learn from them! Now, my blog is by no means famous or extremely well visited. From my Google Analytics statistics I gather that about 2500-3000 people have a look at one of my posts every month. For me, that's quite an accomplishment, especially since this is a personal undertaking and not a commercial business. However, the success of a blog is a relative thing, depending very much on the time you're investing and the goals you're setting. I also learned that blogging is not an exact science. What works for one blogger might be totally us

10 Fun Things to do Outdoors on a Rainy Day in Switzerland

Rainy Day - birgitH  / There is no rain-free season in Switzerland. Some months bring less and some months bring more rain but generally, there are very few weeks a year without any rain at all . Spring and fall are especially known for wet and rainy days. Many people prefer to stay indoors and dry on those days and that's why I put together this list of 10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerland  (and later on  Another 10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerland ) a while ago. However, someone pointed out to me that there are plenty of fun outdoor activities for rainy days as well. Many times, rainy days are actually when nature is at its best! Therefore, I decided to put together this list of 10 Fun Things to do Outdoors on a Rainy Day in Switzerland. Many of these are perfectly fine for other places around the world as well! 10 Fun Things to do Outdoors on a Rainy Day in Switzerland Put on rain boots and jump into every puddle you see. It&

When you eat Bear Droppings and Little Beavers

Licorice or Bäredräck -  BirgitH  /  Do you know the Swiss German word for ' licorice '? Believe it or not, it is 'Bäredräck' which literally means 'bear droppings'. Think about it, some licorice is shaped in a way that it really looks like animal droppings - just maybe not a bears! If you think bears are the only animals found in Swiss food, you're wrong! We also eat ' little beavers'  or 'Biberli' which is a very tasty marzipan filled tartlet and 'little sparrows' called 'Schpätzli' . As in many other languages, there are many Swiss German words that are funny to the foreign ear and mind. They either simply sound silly  or they have an interesting and very funny literal meaning. This is especially true in the case of Swiss Food . Funny sounding Swiss dishes and treats Bäredräck (licorice, lit. bear droppings) Bettmümpfeli (bedtime snack, lit. little bed munchy) Biberli (almond tartlet, lit. lit

A Song About Fall

Leaves are falling -  Sergej Gerbersdorf  / Just as in many other countries and regions with very distinct seasons of the year as there are in Switzerland, we have many Swiss German songs about spring, summer, fall and winter. Lots of them are actually children's songs and are being taught in kindergarten and schools here in Switzerland. Since it's fall season , I'd like to share a song about fall in Switzerland . It's called "Jetzt falled d'Blettli wieder" which means "The Leaves Are Falling Again". It describes Swiss fall with all its facets, the leaves falling, the foggy days and the quiet of fall. Enjoy! Jetzt falled d'Blettli wieder Jetzt falled d'Blettli wieder (The leaves are falling again) de Summer isch verbi (summer is over) und d'Schwälbli flüged alli furt (the swallows are all flying away) mer wüssed ned wohi. (we don't know where to) Und leer sind alli Fälder (And empty are all th

Funny Swiss German Words

Someone who is learning a new language will most certainly stumble across words that will sound funny or strange to him. I remember when I learned that an English rooster cries "cock-a-doodel-doo" I almost fell off my chair from laughing. Seriously? Is this how a rooster sounds? Later, when I thought about it some more, I realized that there are quite a few Swiss German words that must sound just as strange (or even stranger) to the foreign ear. Remembering this episode from my school years (yes, that long ago!) I decided to start a list with funny sounding Swiss German words. It is far from complete and I'm happy to accept any additions! Funny Swiss German Words Chuchichäschtli (small kitchen cupboard) Güggerüggüü (cock-a-doodel-doo) Füdlibürger (burgeois person) Chrüsimüsi (chaos) Hitzgi (hickup) Äxgüsi (excuse) Plagöri (bragger, swaggerer) Chrotepösche (dandelion) Funny - Juergon Jotzo / © 2016 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE

Another 10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerland

Right now it's warm and sunny outside. It's a beautiful late summer day and I'm not sure I should be thinking about rainy days at all. Nevertheless, Switzerland is well known for it's rainy periods . Maybe they aren't quite as long as the famous English rainy weeks but it can get pretty wet here as well. When it's nice out, people always know what to do. Walking, swimming, cycling - you name it! As soon as it starts to rain though, many people feel like they're stuck at home without anything fun to do. Plus, rainy days will come again soon enough! That's why I put together a list of 10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerlan d a while ago. Since that post became quite popular, I decided to add another 10 fun things to the list. Another 10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerland Movies : Go see the latest movie at a local movie theater. Most films are shown in English with German and French subtitles so language shouldn't be an issu

A Swiss Style Cookout

It's summer in Switzerland. Summer here means long days and lots of fun things to do outside. Unless it's raining of course, although even then there are plenty of things to do outdoors . Summer also means lots and lots of use for that barbecue that you bought in the spring. The Swiss love their grilled meats and sausages with a selection of salads and potato chips. In fact, you can spot some sort of barbecue grill on most balconies and lawns. We call these cookouts " grilliere " ('to grill') - and love to have them especially on weekends. However, there is another style of cookout that is (also) very common in Switzerland. If a cookout is not held at home but somewhere outdoors it isn't called "grilliere" anymore. In this case it is called " brötle ". Brötle - A Swiss Style Cookout The Swiss German word " brötle " comes from the German word "braten" and could be translated as "to roast" or to "

The Year in Swiss German

If there is a group of words that sounds similar in many languages it's the words that belong in a calendar: names of months, names of days and other date related terms. In this aspect, Swiss German is generally very similar to German with slight variations in the different dialects. Have a look yourself! If you want to combine the months with numbers (e.g. December 5th) I suggest you learn how to count to 100 in Swiss German and then combine! The Year in Swiss German The Months in Swiss German Januar ('yanoo-ar', January) also: Jänner Februar ('febroo-ar', February) März ('märts', March) April ('ah-pril', April) Mai ('mah-ee', May) Juni ('yoo-nee', June) Juli ('yoo-lee', July) Auguscht ('a-oo-gusht', August) Septämber ('septämber', September) Oktober ('oh-ktober', October) Novämber ('noh-fember', November) Dezämber ('dets-ember', December) The Wee

Znacht - A Swiss Dinner

In this mini series I'll write about the five daily meals people eat in Switzerland:  Zmorge, Znüni, Zmittag, Zvieri and Znacht . What do we typically eat? When do we eat? What is the proper conduct at the table? Today, I'll tell you about dinner which is called  Znacht . Znacht Znacht is a Swiss German word and is an abbreviation of the German "zu Nacht" which basically means "at night". This doesn't mean that we eat dinner during the night but rather at the beginning of the night.  In fact, a typical Swiss family eats dinner between 6 and 7pm. Only d uring winter, night actually comes in before dinner starts.  During the long days of summer, Znacht is often eaten on the balcony or on the patio to enjoy the warmth and light of Swiss summer evenings.  What to eat at a Swiss Znacht Unlike Zmittag (lunch) which is usually a warm meal, dinner traditionally consists of cold foods . A typical Swiss Znacht is sometimes also called " Café comple

Zvieri - A Swiss Snack in the Afternoon

In this mini series about Swiss meals, I'll write about the five daily meals people eat in Switzerland:  Zmorge, Znüni, Zmittag, Zvieri and Znacht . What do we typically eat? When do we eat? What is the proper conduct at the table? Today, I'll write about  Zvieri . What exactly is a 'Zvieri'? Zvieri  is a Swiss German word and literally translates to ' at four '. It refers to a small meal or snack Swiss people eat around 4 pm. This snack is customary for almost everyone in Switzerland; school children, families, working people and university students all like to enjoy a Zvieri at some point during the afternoon. A real Zvieri must be eaten mid-afternoon. The unofficial time range for a Zvieri is 3 pm to 5 pm. If a meal is eaten before 2 pm or after 6 pm it is usually considered Zmittag (lunch) or Znacht (dinner) .  What do the Swiss eat at their 'Zvieri'? Much like the Swiss  Znüni ,  a Zvieri is more like a snack than an actual full meal

Pocket Böögg

Pocket Böögg - www.pocket-böö This coming weekend Zurich will celebrate Sechseläuten , the annual spring festival.  The highlight of the festivities comes at the very end: a giant snowman called "Böögg" is burnt on a stake in the very center of the city. The longer it takes for the Bööggs head to explode (it's got large firecrackers in there), the colder and wetter the summer will be. For those who would like some Sechseläuten atmosphere at home as well, there is now the Pocket Böögg . It is a small version of the real Böögg or better: a do-it-yourself Böögg since it arrives unassembled in a box. There are two available sizes: original (34cm) and mini (21cm). Both Pocket Böögg sets include firecrackers for the Bööggs head (so it'll actually explode with a bang) and a small stake. The idea of a miniature Böögg is interesting. What makes this project even better is the fact that all Pocket Böögg are produced by mentally handicapped people in the workshops

Zmittag - A Typical Swiss Lunch

In this mini series I'll write about the five daily meals people eat in Switzerland:  Zmorge, Znüni, Zmittag, Zvieri and Znacht . What do we typically eat? When do we eat? What is the proper conduct at the table? Today, I'll write about  lunch . A Swiss Zmittag Zmittag is the Swiss German word for lunch and is a short form of "zu Mittag" which means "at noon". This also implies that in Switzerland Zmittag is eaten at mid-day which means exactly at 12.00 and not 12.15 pm or even later. Our stomachs will start rumbling if they don't get filled at the usual time.  Swiss punctuality is the key ! What is special about Swiss Zmittag? In Switzerland, the time between 12am - 1pm is considered a quiet time or rest time . Any kind of loud noise is not allowed during this time. Lawn mowing and drilling holes in the wall are frowned upon. Some people even consider it rude to call someone on the phone during this hour although mobile phones have changed this cu

Znüni - A Swiss Mid-morning Snack

In this mini series I'll write about the five daily meals people eat in Switzerland:  Zmorge, Znüni, Zmittag, Zvieri and Znacht . What do we typically eat? When do we eat? What is the proper conduct at the table? Today, I'll write about Znüni . What is a Znüni? The Swiss German word Znüni is a short form of the German 'zu neun' which literally means 'at nine'. It refers to a small meal or a snack that is eaten at or around 9am. A non-literal translation for Znüni would be ' mid-morning snack' . Znüni is a custom all over Switzerland and exists in schools, companies and homes just the same. Some companies even encourage their employees to take a mid-morning break and enjoy a conversation and a cup of coffee with their colleagues because it supposedly improves productivity. In fact, Znüni is such a common thing in Switzerland that the word  Znüni  is also used in combination with other words: Znünibrot  (Znüni bread) Znünigipfeli (Znüni croiss

Zmorge - A Typical Swiss Breakfast

In this mini series I'll write about the five daily meals people eat in Switzerland:  Zmorge, Znüni, Zmittag, Zvieri and Znacht . What do we typically eat? When do we eat? What is the proper conduct at the table? Today, I'll write about breakfast in Switzerland. Zmorge - Breakfast in Switzerland Zmorge is the Swiss German word for breakfast. It is an abbreviated form of the two German words "zu" (to, at) and "Morgen" (morning) and literally means " in the morning ". This obviously makes perfect sense, since breakfast is almost always eaten in the morning hours of the day. During the week, most Swiss people have their Zmorge between 6.30 am and 7.30 am, depending on what time school starts or what time they have to leave for work. On weekends, breakfast starts much later but the actual time depends largely on the person and things planned. My guess is that on weekends the average Swiss breakfast time is around 9 am but there really aren&

A Typical Swiss Meal

There are few things that define a culture as much as the traditions and customs surrounding its food. While there is some sort of "international food" by now, the traditional meals are obviously different in each country or region of this beautiful world. Think of Asian food and chopsticks and eating while sitting on the floor. Or a big fat hamburger eaten at a bar while watching a basketball game at a local brewery somewhere in the USA. A Peruvian enjoying his Ceviche at the beach with loud latin music in the background. Very different food, right?! But also very different settings for enjoying a meal! Of course, those are ideas and images that aren't always real and plenty of people prove that. However, in most places of the world there are certainly customs and even unwritten rules when it comes to food and how we should prepare and eat it. It's not only about what we eat but also about how and even when we eat that define different cultures. This is certainly tru

How to Say 'I Love You' in Swiss German

To be completely honest, I'm not very fond of hallmark holidays and Valentine's Day is probably the mothership of them all. In my home there will be no cheesy cards or flowers on that day and, personally, I'm happy about it. However, I know that there are many people who like to celebrate Valentine's Day and take it as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation to their loves. Even in Switzerland, there are plenty of people celebrating it nowadays. If you're short on ideas for this years Valentine's Day in Switzerland you might find some inspiration here: Valentine's Day in Switzerland . If you're already set and have the perfect date ready, how about surprising your loved one with a few romantic Swiss German phrases? You should know that the expression "I love you" has only recently made its way into Swiss German from the High German "Ich liebe dich". Swiss people used to simply say "I like you" or "I like

The Swiss School System - Apprenticeship

Apprentices - Paul-Georg Meister / Imagine the following fictional conversation between a young Swiss and a young American. (S = Swiss, A = American) S: What do you do for a living? A: I'm a consultant in one of the larger banks here in Switzerland. S: Interesting. How did you get this job? A: Well, after finishing grad school I worked for an American bank for a while before applying for this position. I wanted to get some international experience, you know?! S: Good for you! A: What about you? Where do you work? S: I'm an accountant. Small firm but interesting work. A: Ok. So, you got your bachelors degree at a local university and then started working? S: Not quite. Actually, I didn't go to university at all. I didn't even finished high school. Instead, I did an apprenticeship . A: A what? And you didn't finish high school? S: Indeed! Apprenticeships in Switzerland The concept of an apprenticeship is quite a foreign concept to peopl