Christmas in Switzerland: Facts About Swiss Christmas Traditons

Here are some facts about Swiss Christmas traditions, celebrations and customs.

  • Many Swiss Christmas traditions have similarities with the Christmas customs of their neighbours –France, Germany and Italy. Festivities usually begin on Advent, the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve.

  • Advent calendars are popular in which a cardboard flap is opened every day leading up to Christmas.
  • Real Christmas trees are popular in many homes during Christmas in Switzerland. Hiking through the forest to find the perfect tree is often an important part of the Christmas celebrations.
  • Many people light real candles on the tree on Christmas Eve, and again at New Year to bring good luck. Children often open presents while the candles are being lit, as is the custom.
  • Father Christmas is known as Samichlaus and he usually visits on Epiphany, January 6th. In some parts of Switzerland, the Three Kings are said to bring gifts on that day too.
  • Some villages celebrate the coming of Father Christmas on December 5th. In some areas, people ring bells, play musical instruments and wear a large lace and cardboard bishop’s hat.
  • Parades and processions are popular during Christmas in Switzerland. During New Year, people march through villages, wearing masks and costumes and making as much noise as they can.
  • The traditional holiday meal, eaten on Christmas Eve, is ham with scalloped potatoes and melted cheese. Walnut cake is usually eaten for dessert, and most families make lots of holiday biscuits.
  • The winter sports season in Switzerland traditionally starts on Christmas Day, and many people go skiing or sledding. The week between Christmas Day and New Year is usually spent visiting family and friends.
  • Some Swiss believe that animals were given the power to talk on the first Christmas. Many farm animals are given extra food on Christmas Eve to thank them for their part in the birth of Jesus.

What next? Learn more about Switzerland, or visit our Christmas Around the World section to discover how Christmas in celebrated in other countries.