Photo: The Local
The perfect Christmas tipple, Swiss schnapps comes in many different flavours drawn from the produce grown around the country. Choose Williamine, a pear brandy made from Williams pears, cherry schnapps from the Arth region, or Abricotine, an eau-de-vie made from luizet apricots grown in the canton of Valais.
Alternatively, pick up bottle of absinthe which, contrary to popular belief, was invented in Switzerland, not France. Banned for a century, it’s now back on the shelves and might just make the perfect gift for the uncle who has everything.
Photo: Denise Sebastian
Want to give your friends and relatives a little insight into your adopted home? Two new books published this year should help them out.
Diccon Bewes, the Switzerland-based British author of the hugely popular Swiss Watching, has teamed up with cartoonist Michael Meister for a new book, How to be Swiss. It's billed as an “entertaining instruction manual” to help you navigate living in or visiting the country.
Meanwhile Claire O’Dea’s The Naked Swiss: A Nation Behind 10 Myths, published in October, aims to “change the way the world thinks about modern Switzerland” by tackling stereotypes head-on.
Photo: Marco Antonio Torres
Don’t even try to go back to your native land for Christmas without stocking your suitcase with Swiss chocolate. Famous chocolate shops Sprüngli and Läderach have branches all over Switzerland – but expect queues the closer we get to Christmas.
Or you could opt for chocolate with added health benefits by giving one of these rather unique bars developed in Switzerland this year: donkeys’ milk chocolate, ideal for those with cows’ milk allergies; and herbal chocolate that could help ease period pains.
British expats, however, might prefer to take some Toblerone back to their families. Though the Swiss choc is widely available in Britain, fans were left outraged earlier this year when its maker announced that due to cost-cutting, it would be changing the bar’s famous mountain-like shape in the UK to something rather less mountainous. A bar of the original, unchanged Toberlone might just ease your loved ones’ pain.
If your family enjoys the annual tradition of coming to blows over a board game at Christmas, this year you can do it with added Swissness by climbing the Matterhorn or following cows up to the mountain pastures – all without leaving the comfort of the sofa.
Photo: The Local
The Swiss love giving wooden toys to kids, especially Trauffer’s beautiful wooden animals, which have become something of an institution in the country. Made by this family business since 1938, they can be found in toy shops all over Switzerland. The range includes every farm animal you could think of plus a few Swiss classics – St Bernard dogs, ibex and marmots. But of course any Swiss farm animal collection worth its salt should begin with a cow, complete with shiny bell hanging around its neck.
Photo: Little Zurich Kitchen
Besides chocolate, there are plenty of other edible Swiss goodies to give at Christmas, such as Basler Läckerli, a glazed gingerbread invented in Basel over 600 years ago. Pick them up at branches of Läckerlihuus throughout the country.
Or have a go at baking Swiss biscuits for yourself, which is very much a Swiss Christmas tradition. Check out Little Zurich Kitchen’s Swiss Wiehnachtsguezli (Christmas cookies) recipes, including cinnamon stars and Mailänderli (pictured).