I love Christmas in Switzerland. Actually, I think Christmas is my favorite time of the year in Switzerland. Well, I always dreamed of having a white Christmas, and now (sometimes) I do. But with or without snow, Christmas in Switzerland is always a big deal. From late November on, wherever you go, you can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit.
And although I’m usually heading back home for the holidays, I have plenty of time to enjoy all the magic of the season in Heidi’s country. But what exactly is so special about it?
Read on for 6 signals it’s Christmas in Switzerland. Disclaimer: During or after reading this post, you too may be caught by the Christmas mood.
1. Lucy is in the sky with diamonds
The Christmas lights switch on, taking place every year on the third Thursday of November, represents the official beginning of Christmas season in Zurich, Switzerland’s biggest city.
Now, you can think that switching on some lights is not much of a big deal. But for the swiss it is. And they make a whole party around it, with late-night shopping, live music, mulled wine and culinary delicacies.
The Christmas lights even got a name: Lucy, inspired in the Beatles’ song, Lucy in the sky with diamonds. And that’s exactly the kind of atmosphere the almost 12’000 white, red and blue LED lights create in Zurich’s famous shopping avenue, the Bahnhofstrasse.
2. There’s a Christmas Market in every corner
And I mean literally every corner. The Christmas market is an institution in Switzerland. And it’s not Christmas in Switzerland without its picturesque wooden stalls, artisanal products and romantic flair.
The city of Zurich alone counts three big Christmas markets:
- the Christkindlimarkt, one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe, held at Zurich main train station;
- the Wienachtsdorf, or Christmas Village, one of the biggest Christmas markets in Zurich, with an ice rink, located in front of the Opera House;
- and the Christmas market in the Niederdorf, Zurich’s oldest Christmas market, in the Old Town.
3. Swarovski Christmas tree is up and bright
Every year this 15 meters tall Christmas tree, decorated with 6’000 sparkling Swarovski crystals, is the top attraction of the Christkindlimarkt, at Zurich main train station. And one of the most iconic images of Christmas in Switzerland.
4. There’s kids (and adults) singing on a Christmas tree
Yes, that’s true. The small Christmas market hidden at Werdmühleplatz, next to the Bahnhofstrasse, has a unique and lovely attraction: a Singing Christmas Tree, where school children and adult choirs spread Christmas joy with their carols.
5. It’s Glühwein season
Glühwein, aka mulled wine, is one of my favorite things about Christmas in Switzerland. You can’t possibly go to a Christmas market in Switzerland without noticing the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon spreading around in the air.
That’s because a cup of this delicious mixture of hot red or white wine, cinnamon sticks, sugar, orange, lemon and cloves is the perfect way to warm-up your hands, your body and your soul on a cold winter day.
6. You’re allowed to shop on Sundays
Switzerland is very strict about shopping times, with Sunday being the officially rest day all over the country. In Zurich, the only stores allowed to open on Sundays are the ones in train and gas stations and at the airport. Even shopping centers are closed on Sundays, what I find very funny to be honest, especially since I come from a country where a trip to the shopping center is the favorite Sunday activity.
The only exceptions in Zurich are three Sundays per year during the Advent season, on which many shops in the city center are open all day. Just one more reason to love Christmas in Switzerland!
What’s your favorite thing about Christmas in your country? Let me know in the comments section below.
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