Switzerland – we don’t have a Santa at Christmastime here…


I can remember visiting Santa in (I think) Lewis’s Argyll Street in Glasgow – Christmas decorations everywhere, a long queue, and being propelled in and out of the Grotto. My children have never done anything like that. Christmas in Switzerland is different.


For a start, we don’t have Father Christmas. (Though the Samichlaus, who comes on December 6th and distributes peanuts, chocolate and mandarine oranges does bear more than a passing resemblance to Santa…) Christmas presents, however, are brought on the 24th by the Christkindli (little Christ Child).

For parents, this has huge advantages. Not for a moment were we tempted to spend Christmas in the UK when the boys were small, and here’s why – in Switzerland, you get to sleep. This is how it works:


christmas-1091570_1280By afternoon on the 24th, most people are off school/work for Christmas. The tradition is for families to gather for dinner in the evening, often preceded by a walk in the woods, or a frantic last-minute shop, or a visit to a carol concert. This means the kids are out the house, which gives the Christkindli plenty of time to whizz in, erect and decorate the tree, leave a selection of presents underneath, and whizz back out again. No reindeer involved, no getting stuck up the chimney, and no sherry and biscuits to consume.

The family return home and do their own traditional thing. We had a separate dining room so the living room was locked (by the Christkindli) until after dinner, when we all trooped in (it was magically unlocked by this time), opened the presents, played, and finished the Christmas sherry…

So the kids go to bed exhausted on the 24th, and (if you’re lucky) sleep late on the 25th. Nobody is creeping around at 3 a.m to see if Santa has been, and nobody is up for the day at 4.30 to investigate their sock.



I have to admit, I missed the sock bit when my boys were small. A couple of times I filled them a sock for the 25th, but the magic just wasn’t there. Sometimes, you can’t mix traditions.

Whatever you’re doing, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas – see you next year!


This entry was posted in Life in Switzerland and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Switzerland – we don’t have a Santa at Christmastime here…

  1. Hi Linda, this brings back special memories of my Christmas time in Switzerland. We celebrated it in a similar way, a walk in the snow-covered landscape on the 24th. In my home, I was in my bedroom in the evening, trying to get a glimpse of the Christkind flying down from heaven with the presents–of course I missed it every time–then the little bell, me rushing into the living room where the magic continued. There is something on my blog about the Samichlaus: http://christa-polkinhorn.blogspot.com/.
    Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Georgia Rose says:

    This is wonderful – I love reading about what happens elsewhere in the world, it is so interesting to find out the traditions others follow and I’m very much liking the getting a decent nights sleep bit! 🙂 Have a terrific Christmas Linda and see you next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. barbtaub says:

    I love hearing about other traditions and celebrations! Thanks so much for this very fun post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alice says:

    When we lived in Switzerland the tradition was to go Kerze ziehen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Annecdotist says:

    Seems much more civilised, Linda, I’d agree, although don’t the kids enjoy dressing the tree also?
    Would be interested in your take on Norah’s post about Santa being away of lying to children:

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      I saw Norah’s post yesterday – interesting one! Whether it’s Santa who brings the pressies or the Christkindli – the myth/tradition is the same. I think we can explain it to older children as a way for parents (and older kids) to make Christmas special for the little ones. Young children and truth is often difficult because they’re not always able to understand. I remember my three-year-old asking if the injection he was getting that afternoon would hurt. I told him ‘a very little’. He was afraid at first and when we arrived at the surgery he became hysterical. After the injection (which he barely noticed, he was screaming so hard) he was fine, but me telling him the truth cost him over an hour of terror. If I’d said ‘No’ he would have said ‘Ouch’ and that would have been it. Being a parent means it’s sometimes impossible to get things right!
      About the tree – you’re right about dressing them, and after the Christkindli has been outed in the family, people usually put up their trees with the kids.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Norah says:

    It’s delightful to read of the tradition in Switzerland. I remember reading of the ways different countries celebrated Christmas years ago, each with its own take on the gift giver and the associated myth. I like the explanation you give older children, and if it works for them, that’s great. Sounds like you will have had a wonderful time. Happy new year!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.