Top Swiss Christmas traditions

Despite its small size, Switzerland is a surprisingly diverse country. When it comes to Christmas, an enormous variety of traditions and rituals will help you discover the history and heritage of the cantons.
When you have tired of the glühwein and Lebkuchen at the Christmas markets, make sure you enjoy a little piece of unique Swiss tradition as well. We have put together our favourites and they are all perfect for enjoying a family day trip to get to know Switzerland a little bit better.

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Bochselnacht in Weinfelden

Local schoolchildren carve out a pumpkin lantern and march towards the town square, where they sing traditional songs accompanied by a brass band to ask for health and happiness for the coming year.

This winter solstice tradition takes places on the last Thursday before Christmas, and dates back to around 1429 in Switzerland.

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Räuchle in Appenzell

In the Appenzell region, an old smoking ritual tradition is still kept alive in the villages on Christmas Eve.

A torch made of holly is set alight, and the pungent smoke is carried around all areas of the house and farm, to drive out demons and purify the household so it will have good luck and a good harvest in the following year

Christmas Carols in Thusis

In Thusis in the Graübunden area of Switzerland, children carry on an old tradition of carol singing that dates back several centuries.

A performance of the oldest carols known in Switzerland takes place on the 31st of December to raise money for charitable causes.

The particular tradition of Thusis is to wrap coins in tissue paper and set them alight before throwing them to the singers to collect.

Brunnensingen in Rheinfelden

The jolly tradition of carol singing has a particular twist in Rheinfelden, where men dressed in black tops have gathered to sing at the town’s 7 fountains since 1342.

The story goes that the only survivors of the great plague decided to dedicate themselves to doing good deeds, with the result that the warm tones of a male voice choir can be enjoyed on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve every year.

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Chlauschlöpfle in Hallwil

A strange sight awaits visitors to Hallwil during the month of November, as boys and men are allowed to crack whips in the street. The tradition dates back to 1588 and is still preserved as a male-only activity.

Said to be a way of tempting out Saint Nicklaus from his hiding place or scaring away evil spirits, the whip-cracking culminates in a coordinated display on the last Sunday before Nicklaus Day.

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Schlittéda in the Engadine

The Engadine Valley is home to an enduringly popular winter tradition of sleigh rides, which is enthusiastically embraced to this day.

Single young men and women don traditional dress and are paired together for a day of sleigh rides on traditional horse-drawn sleighs, as well as eating, drinking and dancing. It’s a great way to pass the winter days in January.

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If you need help to plan or book accommodation, events or activities over the Christmas and New Year period, please just get in touch. We will be delighted to help.

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