The History of Christmas in Switzerland


Throughout history, diverse cultures and beliefs have intertwined to shape the traditions of Christmas in Switzerland. Held sacred, each tradition has been preserved and passed down so that Christmas is celebrated the same today as it was centuries ago.


Because Switzerland is made up of German, French and Italian areas, there are different traditions and beliefs. However, there are also traditions shared among the ethnic cultures, as well.


Advent traditionally starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Children make Advent calendars with 24 flaps that open up to windows displaying a Christmas scene. An Advent wreath is also made and carries four candles representing each Sunday in advent.

The Tree

A tree is put up on Christmas Eve and is decorated by the entire family. The decorations do not differ from American trees, with the exception of the Swiss adding candles.

St. Nicholas

In the German speaking areas it is believed that St. Nicholas is the one who delivers the presents. They also celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6, when children's shoes are filled with mandarin oranges, nuts and cookies.

Le Petit Jesus

In the Catholic region, it is believed "Christkind," or, "Le Petit Jesus," is the bearer of the gifts.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a time when families gather for a feast and read passages that pertain to the birth of Jesus. Most families attend midnight mass and gather afterward for hot chocolate and homemade doughnuts, called "ringli."


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Torie Combest is a freelance writer from Kentucky. She first started writing for local companies and has recently expanded to include web content. Literature is her passion and she hopes, through her writing, to pass that enthusiasm on to the next generation.

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