Seductive scents, sparkling lights and snow-covered landscapes — at Christmas time, Switzerland is transformed into a fairytale landscape with a special atmosphere. But Christmas traditions, unusual customs and unknown practices can also be found in other parts of the world.
But let’s start in Switzerland: baking cookies and reciting a poem to Father Christmas are part of the Swiss Christmas season. For example, children practise their rhymes weeks before the gathering on December 6th to receive a little bag of delicacies from Father Christmas. But did you know that the Christ Child also lives in Switzerland and thousands of letters land in their letterbox every year?
The Home of the Christ Child
High above Lake Constance, in the eastern part of Switzerland, lies the village of Wienacht. This small village in the Appenzellerland region is a place where nature encompasses daily life, and in winter takes on a particularly fairytale appearance. This is probably what the Christ Child, who lives here, thought.
The hamlet, which bears the exact name Wienacht-Tobel, has probably the most famous post office in Switzerland. It receives up to 5,000 letters a year, which are addressed to the Christ Child living in the village.
For many years, Willi Würzer, the long-time manager of the Wienacht-Tobel post office, has been answering the letters filled with children’s wishes that reach him every year. News of this went viral and now people from all over the world send their letters to the village of Wienacht.
These letters make the village of 450 residents a special Christmas place every year, which is known both nationally and internationally. The former post office manager dedicates himself personally to all letters and answers them with joy and a smile on his lips.
Christmas in Norway
Norway also has a very special tradition, which has been preserved for many years. The inhabitants of the northern country hide their mops and brooms every year. This is because Norwegians are very superstitious and want to keep the evil spirits from flying in the Christmas sky with the cleaning supplies. According to their superstition, the spirits return for Christmas and want to annoy people with their presence. This is also why you will find a candle staircase burning in every Norwegian window — to keep the evil spirits away.
Tio de Nadal
In spirited Spain, many regions bring the gifts of Tio de Nadal. The piece of wood, which is decorated with a face and legs, brings not only gifts but also food at night and is allowed to cuddle up in his own blanket afterwards.
On Christmas Eve, the tree trunk is placed in the fire and the family hits it with sticks to extract gifts and sweets. Some customs are not only unique but also very special.
In Switzerland, children write their wishes to the Christ Child in the form of a letter. In many other parts of the world, these wishes are sent to Father Christmas. But did you know that old St Nicholas also has an official letterbox? His address is in Canada, more precisely — Santa Claus, North Pole H0H 0H0, Canada. Letters do not require a stamp and can be sent to Santa free of charge. Those who write their letter by 16 December will also receive a personal reply.
Christmas Monster in Iceland
In many countries and cultures, monsters and spirits are also part of the Christmas season. This is especially prevalent in nordic regions and is a long tradition and part of the culture. The monsters are usually intended to remind children to be good and kind. This is also the case with the Icelandic Christmas police Jólakötturinn, also known as the Icelandic Christmas cat. Jólakötturinn eats children who don’t do their chores and therefore do not receive presents at Christmas.
Christmas on Wheels in Venezuela
The Venezuelans have a very special tradition. The residents of Venezuela always use a mobile means of transport at Christmas time. Roller-skating is part of the annual Christmas tradition, which makes the Venezuelan capital Caracas particularly sporty. People don’t simply go to Christmas mass, they roller skate to Christmas mass! Whole parts of the city are closed off so that all visitors arrive at the church unharmed. A real change from many well-known traditions.
International Christmas traditions are interesting, especially how they vary from country to country. No matter which unique traditions countries have, everyone has one thing in common: they all want to spend a reflective time with the family, enjoying delicious food with premium ingredients and having a family celebration.