December 20, 2017

7 reasons to love December in Switzerland


„I hate December!“

If only I had a penny for each time I hear someone say that…

December gets such a horrible reputation. And I can’t say that it’s completely unjustified. I don’t know about you but every now and then, I catch myself making some of the following statements, too.

  1. „The year is coming to an end and there’s so much I still wanted to do. “
  2. „It’s so depressingly dark and cold all the time. “
  3. „The stress of Christmas shopping is something I could happily live without. “
  4. „Everyone at work wants a piece of me before the year is up. Like the world is coming to an end on December 31st.“
  5. „Christmas is not even here yet and I’ve already gained those kilos back that I’ve been fighting off since last Christmas. But what am I supposed to do when…“
  6. “… all of my friends, my boss, my volleyball team and my flatmates organise a pre-Christmas dinner before the festivities have even begun?“ 

The list goes on.

But I’m not on a December rant here. On the contrary. I’m trying to convince you that December can be one of the best months if you give it a chance.

Here are 7 reasons to love the last month of the year.

December gets a pretty bad reputation for so many reasons. But there are just as many reasons to love the last month of the year. Find out what they are.

Reason #1: Christmas cookies

December is the month of Christmas cookies. They’re literally all over the place.

Supermarkets stack their shelves with bags of them. People start selling their own creations in the street to collect money for charity. And almost every household undertakes a cookie-baking-session at some point in December.

My personal all-time favourites, and the ones I recommend giving a try if you’re in Switzerland in winter, are the following:

  • Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars with a sugar glaze)
  • Chräbeli (anise cookies)
  • Spitzbuebe (No. 13 in this post)
baking cookies

Reason #2: Cheesy comfort food

Let’s stick with food here for a minute. Or cheese, to be more precise.

December is the beginning of the melted cheese-season. When in doubt of what to have on a snowy day, lots of people make either Raclette or Fondue. Those iconic Swiss dishes are typical for winter and we don’t normally have them during the rest of the year.

However, if you happen to be in Switzerland during spring, summer or autumn, don’t be shy to give it a go.

If what I’m saying doesn’t make much sense to you, let me introduce you to two of the most popular Swiss dishes.

How to eat Raclette

  1. Season sliced Raclette cheese and put in Raclette pan
  2. Place pan in Raclette grill and wait for cheese to melt
  3. Pour cheese over boiled potatoes
  4. Eat alongside with pickles, corn, onions or whatever else your heart desires

How to eat Fondue

  1. Melt Fondue mixture (a bucket-load of cheese) in a Fondue pot
  2. Put pieces of bread on a long Fondue fork
  3. Dip bread in cheese and stir until you have enough cheese on it

That’s the standard way to eat Fondue and Raclette. But as with everything, there are no limits to your creativity.

Some people use potatoes instead of bread with the Fondue. Some people soak their bread in Kirsch (cherry Schnaps) before they dive for the cheese pot. And some people also grill meat and vegetables on the Raclette grill.

To make matters worse, some people (not mentioning any names here…) even eat microwave Fondue when they’re overcome by sudden cheese cravings. After all, you’re not yourself when you’re hungry, right?

But anyway, December is not just about food. Drinking is important, too.

Reason #3: Hot alcohol

By far the most popular beverage in December is Glühwein. This mulled wine gets punched with all sorts of spices and flavours like orange slices, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. It’s the perfect way to warm up your hands at any Christmas market. 

But Glühwein isn’t the only hot alcoholic beverage you can try in December. Hot cider and even hot beer are common drinks, too. They haven’t managed to knock Glühwein off the pedestal, though.

Glühwein is part of every Christmas market and usually the main reason why people even go there.

If you’re looking for Glühwein, just follow the crowd.

Reason #4: Christmas markets 

Regardless whether you’re into Christmas markets or not, you have to admit that they give the winter atmosphere a certain touch. Almost every city or village has a market of some sort at some point in December. Some even last the entire month.

To find a market in a specific area, head to the local tourism office to get more information. Or, alternatively, download the free Swiss Events app to find out about upcoming markets across Switzerland.

Reason #5: Christmas lights

Remember when I said that December is depressingly dark all the time? That’s not entirely true. With all the Christmas lights everyone puts up, December is probably the brightest winter month of all.

The best places to check out Christmas lights are the pedestrian zones in the old towns. Each year, cities and villages dig up their decorations from the previous year to light up their alleys. This definitely makes up for the lack of daylight during this time of the year…

Fortunately, there are still plenty of hours left to check out other things during the day. Like snowy landscapes, for instance.

Reason #6: Winter wonderland 

Although winters have gotten a lot milder in the past couple of years, chances are that at some point in December, places will start looking pretty fairytale-like. To increase your odds of throwing a couple of snowballs, head into the hills or mountains. The higher, the better.

If taking a few pretty photos and going for an easy stroll is too boring for you, other activities like skiing, sledding, snowshoe walking or cross-country skiing might be an option, too.

Reason #7: Ice skating 

You don’t necessarily have to gain any altitude to engage in winter activities, though.

Sports centres across the country have their ice hockey rinks ready and open for public. Some cities set up ice rinks on public squares. And even frozen over lakes and ponds turn into ice skating venues.

Most places rent out skates, too so don’t worry about leaving your ice skating equipment at home.

By the way, if you’re not willing to break your tailbone over some ice princess fun, lingering around the fence and admiring people’s skating skills can be just as entertaining.

That’s the option I usually go for…

Get your gloves out 

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make the most of December. So put your scarf on, give in to those cheese cravings and enjoy the last bit of the year before it’s gone. 

And don’t try microwave Fondue if you can help it. 🙂 

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