What more magical time could there be to be in the Alps than Christmas, the time of year when every child prays for snow and Santa sledges on his vital delivery mission. Switzerland, with its four linguistic and cultural regions, celebrates the great winter festival with the nation’s wonderful regional diversity.
The fun starts on Christmas Eve, usually after a half-day at the office. A tree – the Christmas tree originated in Germany – is unveiled and presents exchanged with many families heading to a late service at their local church.
With so much to do the Christmas Eve meal tends to be a big joint of boiled ham called a “Schüfeli”, which means small shovel, or “Rollschinkli”.
The French-speaking areas like turkey and chestnut stuffing, accompanied with a creamy chicory bake or a cardoon (a relative of the artichoke) gratin. German speakers may tuck in to a “Pastete”, an enormous vol-au-vent packed with veal and mushrooms in a cream sauce.
“Fondue Chinoise” is becoming popular. Sitting round a fondue cooking very thin slices of meat in a hot broth before dipping them into sauces is a fun way to eat together and turns a great Swiss tradition into a modern international experience.
Wherever you are in Switzerland you’ll find plenty of festive sweet treats to enjoy. The Christmas Eve feast will probably be concluded with a walnut cake and everyone will bake some of a dizzying array of biscuits and cookies. “Lebkuchen” are spicy, “Spitzbueben” stuffed with jam, “Totenbeinli” (which means little legs of corpses) are studded with whole hazelnuts. There will, of course, be plenty of the best chocolate in the world too.
Above all, Christmas is about sharing and meeting. You’ll find the small Alpine villages full of open doors, grilled sausages and gluh wein, a spicy red wine brew not far off traditional British or American mulled wine.
One man is at the heart of it all of course, and his name is Samichlaus, who travels around with his friend Schmutzli. The Swiss Santa often arrives on St Nicklaus day on December 6. He has a book of naughty children, but allows redemption with the recitation of a poem before handing over his oranges, gingerbread and nuts.
There is no more magical place to celebrate Christmas than staying in one of our luxury Swiss Ski Chalets. Your private chef will be happy to discuss menu proposals.