Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Blog Surf Day: My favorite Swiss holiday

This year I'm taking part in World Blog Surf Day. The short explanation: a bunch of expatriates blog on a common subject and then link to another expat blog, thereby creating a chain of posts from around the world.

Sounded like fun so I signed up, voted on this year's topic, and anxiously awaited to be informed what I would be writing about today.

The topic for this year's Surf Day is... *drumroll*

Holidays & Celebrations--What is your favorite new holiday and how is it celebrated?

I voted on this one so I was thrilled. But still a little stumped. The Swiss celebrate everything. They will throw a party to celebrate a new tunnel opening. How was I going to pick just one?

I asked Brian what his favorite holiday or celebration was. He didn't even hesitate: Oktoberfest! So he wasn't any help; I haven't made it to Oktoberfest yet.

After weeks of going over my choices in my head, I picked one. And then I struggled with my decision because it really isn't a new holiday. But screw it, I'm going with it anyway.

My favorite holiday is Christmas. Or Christmas season. Or the entire month of December.

See, not really a new holiday. However, the way the Swiss celebrate Christmas makes it new to me. Because they start early here and go big right up until the 25th.

It all begins December 6, when Samichlaus comes to town to give sweets, nuts, and fruit to well behaved little children. His arrival is celebrated with parades in towns throughout the German part of Switzerland. But he doesn't arrive alone. Schmutzli, Samichlaus' sidekick dressed in brown and carrying a switch and a sack, and a donkey accompany him.

Schmutzli helps Samichlaus hand out his goodies these days. However, in the past, Schmutzli was rumored to kidnap and beat children who misbehaved. According to this article, some Schmutzli's still take their disciplinary role seriously.

After the parade, there is usually a small market in the town center. Markets, ahhh. Another Christmas season favorite of mine.

Christmas markets abound throughout Europe and I love them. Zurich Hauptbahnof and Einsiedeln were among my favorites last year but I plan to vist a few more this year. But let's be honest, any market out there that has opfelchuechli's will be a winner in my book.

Then there is the Singing Christmas tree, located just off the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.

It's a great way to spend a December evening, sitting around, listening to carols, and drinking gluhwein or tea. Check out the website to schedule a visit this season.

Those are just a few of the things I love that make Christmas season in Switzerland so magical for me. They take the season and turn it up a notch. There's always something to do and, chances are, you'll have a blast checking it out.

Oh, and did I mention December is the only time of the year that shops are open on Sunday? What's not to love about shopping on Sunday?!

Thanks to Karen over at Empty Nest Expat for being the Twitter reporter for today! Karen is an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said, "Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing--and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic."

Now, feel free to surf! Go see what Carla, over at Who'd Say?, has to say!

As you surf, if you hit a blog that hasn't posted yet, feel free to check out the list of blogs participating so you can get back on track!


Sezin said...

Christmas in Switzerland is indeed a wonderful time. Thanks!

Karen said...

Mrs. Mac, thanks for a wonderful post about Swiss Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I miss gluhwein and opfelchuechli's. Is it possible we could make them here?! I'm going to have to look into that....

grammie said...

What fantastic memories of Swiss Christmas. The Best ~ Ensieldeln Christmas Market, snowing, and those delicious apples ~ truly amazing.

So many wonderful memories...

You are right.. Great post Megs.

Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

You've used some lovely photos to illustrate this post. I love the one of Samichlaus pulling his sleigh!

Emmanuelle Archer said...

Your comment about the fact that the Swiss will have a celebration for the opening of a tunnel made me laugh... so true! (I think that many European countries are the same way - growing up in France, I remember that our mayor would organise "opening ceremonies" at the slightest provocation!)

Thanks for your lovely post on Swiss Christmas traditions. Now I'm craving some mulled wine!

Have a great WBSD,

BBE said...

I'm getting more and more curious about this Schmutzli character.


Hoppy said...

My favorite was the 40-foot Christmas tree decorated in Svrovski crystal. Love to all.

*lynne* said...

You're not the only one to have chosen Christmas/December in Switzerland for this WBSD -- it's rather eye-opening for me, who spent many a Christmas in my Swiss grandparents' village of Tramelan, without all the bazaars/markets and such.

Glad to "meet" you via WBSD, hope to catch up with your posts in the future :)


Sher said...

Great post! Christmas sounds like such a magical and beautiful season in Switzerland! :0) And I love the idea of the singing Christmas tree--wonderful!!!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

mub said...

This is interesting... we have Zwarte Piet in The Netherlands and it seems like this time every year people start getting crazy about how un-politically correct it is. I'm curious if it's like that there too?

hospitalera- guestblogging at Working Nomad said...

A singing Christmas tree! that surely is unique! SY

Anonymous said...

Christmas in Switzerland is so lovely! And I'm glad our family will get to experience it again this year here! I'm already drooling thinking of the deep-fried apple rings, and the gluhwein and mmmm... I could just eat my way through our town's Christmas market (Winterthur).

mrsmac said...

Sezin- You're welcome!

Karen- No problem! Thanks for doing the twitter thing!

Colleen- We'll figure out a way to make them.

Grammie- What some eggnog from Einsiedeln?

expatriatelife- Thanks! He's one creepy dude (sometimes).

Emmanuelle Archer- It is pretty silly but it's growing on me!

BBE- Me too! There's a ton of stuff online. He seems to have been a great tool for parents when their kids misbehaved. I may start a movement to bring the bad Schmutzli back.

Hoppy- Me too. Will definitely see that this year.

lynne- I was afraid that wee would all pick the same one! Thankfully it seems we all added something different to it (I hope!). Nice to meet you too!

Sher- Thanks! And thanks for organizing this!

mub- Haven't noticed any outrage or uproar about PCness. But then again, the Swiss aren't that PC themselves.

hospitalera- guestblogging at Working Nomad- and tons of fun too!

kookykrys- me too! and sadly, I usually do eat my way through each market we go to!

hospitalera said...

Update: My own blog post for WBSD suffered an emergency url change (don't get me started on the 'why?' please) and can now be found at Unfortunately I have lost also all comments I had *sniff-sniff* and can't retrieve / transfer them, SY