Christmas is one of the most blissful occasions in Switzerland. The celebrations of the festival in the European country are not very much different from those seen in other nations of the continent. One can see the same degree of merriment, including family gatherings on Christmas Eve and church services on the following day. The traditions associated with the celebration of the auspicious occasion in Switzerland are followed since ages. Go through the following lines to know all about the celebrations of Christmas in Switzerland.
Christmas Celebrations In Switzerland
In Switzerland, advent is regarded as the period that commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Advent marks the beginning of the preparations of the arrival of Lord Jesus Christ. Historical records say that people in the 19th century eagerly awaited for this period. According to them, advent was the time to preach children about the quality of patience before a reward. To mark this tradition, an Advent Calendar was developed, which consisted of 24 little flaps that opened onto windows with images, each depicting a Christmas scene.
Apart from Advent Calendars, Advent wreath form an important part of the customs followed for the celebrations of Christmas in Switzerland. As per the tradition, the Advent wreath consists of four candles, one for each of the Sundays in Advent. One candle is burnt on the first day, the second on the second Sunday and so on. This custom of illuminating the candles on Advent wreath is also seen in many other countries of the world. Another tradition quite popular in Switzerland is 'Kluasjagen', which literally means 'Nicholas Chase'. It is observed on December 5 in the Catholic areas of Switzerland.
More than 200 men participate in the torch-lit procession of Nicholas Chase. They clad themselves in long white skirts and dance through the streets of Switzerland, most notably in Küssnacht am Rigi in Canton Schwyz. Escorted by several dark-robed assistants, a person disguised as St. Nicholas marks his appearance in the procession. He is followed by the men, who dance rhythmically against their legs, while others blow brass instruments for them. This tradition is followed year by year, making it an important custom in Switzerland.
In the areas of Switzerland where German-speaking people are concentrated, a custom similar to Nicholas Chase is followed. In those areas, St. Nicholas appears on December 6, when children awake to find their shoe filled with oranges, nuts and cookies. St. Nicholas is popularly called 'Samichlaus' in those areas. He is accompanied by a character called Schmutzli, who pays visit to small children. It is believed that Schmutzli carries cane and jute sack filled with presents for the little ones.
On Christmas Eve, people in Switzerland arrange family get together. Usually parents decorate the Christmas tree. However, small children would also be keen in decorating their brightly illuminated Christmas tree. Attractively packed gifts are placed underneath the Christmas tree, which are opened only on the following day. While Christmas lights are sparkling and blinking in other parts of the world, in Switzerland, you would often spot string of lights, hung to the Christmas tree, emit yellow light. People in the country would have an early dinner. Thereafter, the entire family gathers around the Christmas tree.
People would head towards the nearest church to attend the Midnight Mass, on Christmas Eve. Christkindli, an angel clad in white robes visits every home to announce that it is Christmas time. As she steps into the house, people would illuminate candles on the Christmas tree and then the angel offers presents to them. On the following day, people would head towards the nearest church, attend the church service and then return to their places to celebrate the auspicious occasion with loved ones.