Christmas For Members

The Christmas food that brings comfort and joy to the Swiss

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
The Christmas food that brings comfort and joy to the Swiss
The kind of fondue the Swiss eat at Christmas is not the one you might expect. Photo: jkb/Wikimedia Commons

Unlike most European countries, Switzerland doesn't really have 'classic' Christmas dishes such as the turkey in the UK or the roasted goose in Germany.


On December 24th in the evening (when most Swiss celebrate Christmas), families unite around a bubbling communal pot. The festive ritual involves skewering raw meat on a long-handled fork and dipping it in a boiling liquid.

That's because the most 'traditional' meal you would likely find in a Swiss home at Christmas is a fondue. No, not the kind made with melted cheese (as you might expect in Switzerland), but the meat-based bourguignonne or Chinese one, the latter being the more popular of the two.


Both dishes are made in a big fondue pot and once the meat is cooked, it is dipped in various mayonnaise-based sauces, ranging from savory to sweet.

The difference between the two fondues is that in the bourguignonne, meat cubes are cooked in hot oil, while in the Chinese, thin slices of meat are cooked in boiling broth.

READ ALSO: The most bizarre Swiss Christmas traditions

Why are the two fondues so popular at Christmas time, uniting Switzerland's linguistic regions? Various surveys carried out on this topic have shown that Swiss people like these dishes because they don't take much effort and time to prepare, and yet they make for a very convivial meal.

But, as popular as they are, the fondues are not the only Christmas meals that Swiss typically eat. Another favoured holiday dish is Filet im Teig (filet en croûte in French) – a pork fillet and minced sausage meat wrapped in pastry. A variation on this is the pastry-wrapped hot ham – Schinkli im Teig (jambon en croûte).


In the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, it is not uncommon to eat roasted capon stuffed with chestnuts or sausage. It is typically served with a side of potatoes and vegetables, although you might also find risotto on the menu, as it is a very popular Ticinese dish.

Whichever of the above meals you happen to eat, have yourself a merry Swiss Christmas!


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