Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Joyeux Noel" (French), "Buon Natale" (Italian), "Froehliche Weinachten" (Swiss-German), "Bellas Festas" (Romansh)
Location: Western Europe
Tree Type: Traditional

Decorations:

  • The crystal globes represent the simplicity of light.
  • The snowflakes represent the four distinct regions of Switzerland.
  • The stars represent not only the light from heaven but also the guiding light and the joy of light.
  • The white candles made of traditional wax represent the pure white season of light.
  • Only real candles decorate the tree not electric ones.
  • The star treetop represents the star of Bethlehem.

Traditions: Switzerland is a country made up of four cultural traditions, Swiss-German, French, Italian and Romansh and many of the holiday traditions reflect those countries. In the Swiss-German, Romansh and French areas there are Christmas trees, in the Italian area there is not.

Gifts are given out on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. In some areas gifts are brought by Santa Claus, Sameichiaus, Father Christmas and his wife Lucy or La Befana. He distributes candies, fruit and toys. In some areas, there is a parade held in the honor of St. Nicholas. He leads the children who are dressed in white robes and masks around the village. At the end he distribute gifts.

In the Swiss-German areas a tinkling of a silver bell heralds the arrival of a white clad angel (Christkindli), a veil held in place by a jeweled crown covers her face. The tree candles are lit as she enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers.

The week before Christmas, children dress up and visit homes with small gifts. Bell ringing has become a tradition, and each village competes with the next when calling people to midnight mass. After the service, families gather to share huge homemade doughnuts (ringli) and a cup of hot chocolate.