Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2022

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

How to Create Your Own Christmas Calendar

Another year is over and Christmas is just around the corner. 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 . Advent is the season of waiting and preparation  before the actual Christmas on December 25th. As in many parts of Europe, people in Switzerland enjoy the tradition of counting the days until Christmas eve. This is usually done with an Advent Calendar, also called a  Christmas Calendar,  which counts the 24 days from December 1st o 24th or an Advent Wreath  that counts the last four Sundays before Christmas.  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

How to Create a Paper Christmas Calendar

"O du fröhliche, o du selige Gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!  Welt ging verloren  Christ ist geboren  Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!" As I'm listening to this famous German Christmas Carol  which talks of Christ's birth, I remember the Christmasses of my childhood. Beautifully decorated houses with advent wreaths and Christmas trees and the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven. If we were lucky - and many times we were! - it would snow on the days leading up to Christmas and we could build snowmen and use our sleds to slide down the local sledding hill.  Another thing that was a constant companion of those Christmas days were the different advent calendars that we had in our home. My mother hung up a beautiful nativity scene where the stars were put up one by one as the days went by. 23 stars and one special one in the form of a shooting star. We also had a classic calendar with 24 numbered small bags with treats inside. And, of course, we all had our o

How to Make Home Made Wrapping Paper

For most people the end of November marks the starting point of their Christmas shopping and December is when they finish buying their Christmas presents. These days gifts can be bought already wrapped or you can have them wrapped in the store for a little extra cash. If you're like me, you'll know that big part of the joy of giving comes with carefully wrapping the presents and writing just the right words in the little card attached to them.  Many stores here in Switzerland, too, have a gift wrapping service and while it may be very convenient to buy your gift ready and wrapped, so to speak, I think that is rather boring. I mean, if you found an amazing gift for your husband or best friend why would you want to waste it with average wrapping? Exactly! Especially, if your gift has vintage character or is home made I would advise you to give it the wrapping it deserves! However, it turns out I can't always find wrapping paper that is to my liking. I want to thank my f

How to Spot a Swiss Person

"You're not from here, right?!" These were the words the saleslady of a small clothes store on a busy Tel Aviv street directed at me a few years ago. I was surprised she had spotted my foreignness so easily. After having lived in Israel for a few years and mastered the local Hebrew, I thought I was able to blend in quite well by then. So, I asked her how she knew. She replied with a smile and said: "You nicely folded the clothes you tried on before bringing them back out!" Oh that! Something I assumed was 'normal' but, apparently, the locals didn't do that. My Swiss background gave me away.  A Stereotypical (Swiss) Person As an expat I can usually spot fellow expats right away even if at first they seem to fit right in. Be they Swiss people I encounter abroad or foreigners living in Switzerland. Mostly, I catch a word or a phrase in a foreign language or see clothes or other items that are clearly not local. Here in South America it's very easy t

In the Light of Turnip Lanterns

It's been a beautiful fall this year so far with lots of sun and colours. Now however, most leaves have fallen from the trees and the days are getting even shorter and quite a bit colder. It's once more the season of cozy evenings by the fire or a cup of hot punch on the ice skating rink. It's not quite Christmas yet but we're starting to feel the need for pretty lights and warmth in those first wintery days. A Surprising Winter Tradition Traditionally, these first days of winter mark the beginning of the Christmas season in Switzerland . While it's too early still to start opening your Christmas Calendar  or light the candles on your Advent Wreath , you can definitely start getting them ready and you probably can also sign up for a place in your local Advent Windows  activity already. Starting with Christmas shopping might be a good idea as well. So, while this pre-Christmas season is mainly marked with preparations for the 'real thing', it is also the tim

How to Get Cheap Ski Passes in Switzerland

                                    Skiing - T K  /                                          A few years ago, I had the privilege to spend a few months traveling through different parts of the USA. I spent some time in Chicago visiting friends but - not being the big city type - moved on to explore the stunning natural beauty of Colorado, Utah and California. It was in October and November - right at the end of autumn and beginning of winter. This meant I could still do some serious hiking, especially in Utah and California with warmer weather and drier climate. It also meant there was enough snow on the mountains already that I had the chance to try out snowboarding in North America. Apparently the snow was supposed to be different there... When I checked out websites for ski resorts in Colorado I was in for a big surprise. Many were already open (with limited slopes and lifts available) but the prices for one-day-tickets were incredibly high. At least, in comparison to the