What changes in Switzerland in December 2023

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What changes in Switzerland in December 2023
Christmas markets abound in Switzerland in December. Photo: Pixabay

From an impish creature coming to scare children, to new vignettes stickers and the election of a new minister — these are some of the changes and big events that will happen in Switzerland in December 2023.


December 1st: Rents could increase

The reference mortgage rate is expected to go up again on December 1st, which would lead to further rent increases. 

This would follow a recent rent hike, after the benchmark mortgage rate increased from 1.25 to 1.50 percent in June, allowing landlords to raise rents by 3 percent in some cases.

December 1st: New motorway vignette goes on sale

You won't actually have to use it until January 31st, 2024, but you can purchase this sticker already from December 1st.

You can either buy the physical sticker from service stations, garages, post office counters, automobile services or customs offices and affix it to your windshield, as you had done in years past, or you can purchase in in the digital form on the website of the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (BAGZ). 

The price is still 40 francs, though the government wants to increase the price to 100 francs in the future.

READ ALSO: Could the cost of the Swiss motorway vignette rise to 100 francs?

Note that from February 1st, you could be fined 200 francs if you drive on a Swiss motorway without the sticker — either the paper one or the proof that you have bought a digital version.

December 6th: St. Nicholas Day

As in a number of other countries, kids in Switzerland will commemorate St. Nicholas (so named after Nicholas of Myra, Patron Saint of children).

This Swiss version of Santa Claus is called Samichlaus in the German-speaking part, and Saint-Nicolas in the French. He is typically dressed in bishop’s robes, wears a mitre on his head, and carries a staff.
He is accompanied by a donkey (which totes a sack filled with chocolates, peanuts, and mandarines on his back), and his helper, “Schmutzli”.

Called “Père Fouettard” in French, this evil sidekick carries a bunch of twigs for punishing naughty children.

Needless to say, this tradition started long before laws against whipping children were introduced, though Schmutzli never actually whips anyone.

But his menacing presence is supposed to be a deterrent to bad behaviour.

December 10th: Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) release their 2024 timetable

As it does each year on the second Sunday of December, SBB will publish its new timetable on December 10th.

Not only will the train schedule change, but also that of the entire public transport network, so it will coincide will the trains’ arrival and departure times at all stations throughout Switzerland.


December 13th: A new member of the Federal Council to be elected

With the departure of Health Minister (and current Swiss president) Alain Berset  on December 31st, a Cabinet member will be elected by MPs on December 13th from among several who had put forth their candidacies for the posts.

This election will take place during the winter session of the parliament, which takes place from December 4th to 22nd.

The Federal Council consists of seven members, each heading a specific Ministry and representing different political parties, so that the balance of power reflects that of the parliament.

As Berset is from the Social Democratic party, potential Councillors will be chosen from this party as well.

Swiss President Alain Berset will step down in December. Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP

READ ALSO: What's next for Switzerland after president announces resignation?


December 25th: Christmas

While Christmas Eve is not a national holiday in Switzerland, it falls on a Sunday this year, so all those who want to celebrate it, can do so.

Christmas Day is, however, a holiday everywhere in Switzerland.

December 26th, is a public holiday in Swiss-German cantons, so some people will be getting two weekdays off.


December 31st: Farewell to 2023

As this year is drawing to a close, it is a good time for retrospections and setting new goals (or maintaining same ones) for 2024.

Are you curious about what’s ahead in 2024?

While we don't claim to have a crystal ball, you can find some answers here:

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Switzerland in 2024

Also in December :

While some Swiss ski resorts are in operation already, most will inaugurate their season during December. This link lists dates for all openings.

As for Christmas markets, which are plentiful in Switzerland throughout December, you can find out more about them here.


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