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Easter in Switzerland: Traditions and Celebrations

In all parts of the world, Easter calls for a time to celebrate and share happy moments with close family and loved ones. Like any country, Switzerland has its own traditions, customs and interesting gifts. Easter in Switzerland is characterized by increasing commercialization, leaving the religious aspects of the festival on the back burner. Easter is a very popular holiday in Switzerland, where old traditions and new customs coexist.

Easter Celebration in Switzerland

Easter celebrations in Switzerland

Switzerland, the land of arguably the best chocolates in the world, has more activities in Easter tradition, than just chocolate eggs.

The spirit of Easter celebration in Switzerland is the same as in the rest of Europe, but, what is unique about Switzerland is that each of its cantons (regions) has a different Easter tradition activity to its credit.

For example, in Zurich, a very popular game called Zwanzgerle is organized on Easter Monday. Children carry decorated eggs which adults attempt to break with a 20 cent coin. If the egg is broken, the adult gets to keep it, if not, then the child gets to keep the coin. It so happens that generally, kids happen to earn quite a few 20 cent coins, as it turns out to be difficult to break an egg with a twenty cent coin.

Happy Easter In Switzerland

Eiertutschen, or smashing of eggs, are popular across Switzerland, and it is also followed in parts of Europe. It is the age-old game of breaking one’s easter egg with his own. Whoever’s egg manages to survive the crash, wins. Cities like Bern, the Swiss capital, see this event being organized on a large scale, with hundreds participating with zest. Both the Eiertutschen and Zwanzgerle are a lot of fun to watch.

Easter is a time to unite and spend time with friends and family in Switzerland, and the mood is built over an entire week, when homes, malls and parks are decorated. Being Switzerland, chocolates take the prime seat, and you will find special easter egg chocolates, Easter bunny chocolates, and special Easter chocolate hampers. The most believed Swiss tradition is that the cuckoo brings all the easter eggs, and this is reflected in all outdoor and park decorations. Easter baskets are very very common as well, containing the easter hampers. The baskets, the cuckoo bird and the eggs are the central theme of all easter decorations in Switzerland. They also signify spring and new life.

Easter Sunday morning is the time for all Swiss kids to participate in egg hunt (treasure hunt) competitions. Each kid will have a basket, on which they gather their treasures, namely colourful, well decorated eggs. Children with the maximum number of eggs win, and are awarded prizes like marzipan rabbits, chocolate rabbits, sugar eggs, small gifts and assorted chocolates. Nougat eggs, jelly eggs and Osterchuechli (a Swiss treat made of rice or semolina) also make it to the platter of the winner's gifts.

The hinterlands of Switzerland engage in a simple gift giving ceremony, which consists of giving gifts like fresh bread, cheese and wine, to strengthen their bond, and to engage in merrymaking together. It is also the time to wear traditional clothes.

The Easter tree, or Osterbaumli, is a common decoration found in all Swiss homes. It is more of a flower vase, only that you have sprigs cut off from a tree or plant, and then the place is decorated with easter goodies like chocolate cuckoo birds, rabbits and eggs.

It helps create a love festive corner at the home, much like a Christmas tree, and gets everyone in the mood for celebration and reverence.

Special Egg painting

As in other parts of the world, Easter egg colouring and painting is one of the major activities in every household, and all bright colours are generously used. However, what is unique to Switzerland is, there is a tradition of elaborately colouring eggs with onion skins of yellow and red colour. It’s an elaborate process, requiring vinegar and salt, some flowers and old pantyhose.

The March of weeping women

This is confined to the western part of Switzerland, where women walk solemnly through the streets, carrying cushions, crimson or red in colour. These cushions have symbols of crucifixion of Jesus Christ, like birch, whip, nails, crown of thorns and also a whip. It is carried out of Easter Friday, remembering Jesus’s sacrifice for mankind. The custom is called Les Pleureuses.

Time for fountain Decorations

In Nyon, beside the lake of Geneva, all the members of the community join hands and participate in the annual event of decorating all the fountains of the area. Local clubs, citizens, businesses and even school children participate with full vigour to decorate all the fountains, as a symbol to welcome new life. After the decorations are complete, competitions are taken out to tour all the fountains and win prizes for the same. It is a fun and nice event, and attracts a lot of visitors as well.

On the platter, apart from all the regular easter goodies, Chlefeli or Easter Zopf bread, always finds a place, no matter in which part of the country you are.

Easter celebrations in other European countries

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