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How to Make Your Own Adventskranz

The Christmas season is upon us and Christmas lights light up the streets of towns and cities in Switzerland during the long and dark nights of early winter. Soon, most kids (and many adults) in Switzerland will start counting the days until Christmas with their Christmas calendars.
The Adventskranz Another way Swiss people count the days to December 24th and the big celebration is the Adventskranz (advent wreath). An Adventskranz is usually a decorated circular wreath made of fir branches with four large candles fastened on it. As opposed to Christmas calendars that start counting the days until Christmas on December 1st, advent wreaths count the last four weeks before Christmas eve. The first candle is lit on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas eve and then every week an additional candle is lit.

You can buy an Adventskranz at most supermarkets in Switzerland. However, I find it much more exciting to create your very own. My mom used to buy a styrofoam ring to create a wreath wit…

While You're Waiting for Winter

Falls is almost over and the gray, cold winter days are before us and I wish I had something inspiring to tell you. If you're tired of the grey and not really looking forward to the even shorter and darker days, I'll help you out with a few suggestions for things you can look forward to this winter season.

Getting in Christmas Mood:
Glühwein - you'll find a recipe for this tasty hot drinkHome Made Wrapping Paper - an idea for making your own wrapping paperSwiss Santa - how the Swiss celebrate SantaChristmas Calendars - make your own calendarEnjoying Swiss Winter:
10 Fun Things To Do Inside in WinterSeegfrörni - when Lake Zurich froze overTurnip Lanterns - explore this Swiss tradition10 Fun Things To Do Outside On a Snowy Winter DayFlims, Laax and Falera - go skiing in SwitzerlandWinter in Arosa - story of a weekend in Arosa




© 2013 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

5 Signs that Switzerland is Indeed a Small Country

Switzerland is a very small country. Not as small as tiny Luxembourg or Liechtenstein but still very small. Especially, if you compare it's size to countries outside of Europe. In fact, Switzerland would fit over 200 times into Canada or the US. Being small helps a lot to stay organized and clean - two characteristics that are very typical of Switzerland and its inhabitants.
Signs that Switzerland is a Small Country Even in every day life, the small size of Switzerland is sometimes noticeable. I've found 5 signs that show that Switzerland is indeed a very small country.
Postal codes are made of four ciphers only and go from 1000 in Geneva to the 9000s in St. Gallen. There is one system of postal codes for the whole country (and not one for each state or province!). Most other countries have ZIP codes of 5 or more ciphers.Driving from Germany to Italy (north to south) through Switzerland takes about 3 hours, driving from France to Austria (west to east) through Switzerland takes…

How the Swiss Drink Their Coffee

Fall is here and the temperatures are dropping. When the leaves turn golden and red it's time to start cuddling up inside and drinking hot beverages again. Now, we'll drink tea and coffee not only to wake us up in the morning but to keep us warm also.
Coffee and Switzerland Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest coffee consumption per capita in the world. It is no surprise that the Swiss created a variety of ways to prepare and drink their coffee.

Many Swiss people like to drink their coffee black - with or without sugar others like the international imports like Starbucks. However, Switzerland has definitely more coffee varieties and combinations to offer!
Swiss Coffee Variations Other than the regular black coffee, espresso and cappuccino that are known all over the world the Swiss like to drink their coffee in the following varieties:
Café crème: coffee with cream (and sugar if desired)Café mélange: coffee with whipped cream; usually the whipped cream is served…

10 Things You'll Miss About Switzerland

When you move to a foreign country you'll be confronted with many new things. New types of food, a new kind of mentality, most likely a new language, a new scenery and much more. However, you'll most likely not only be busy with getting used to new things but also a bit longing for (at least some of the) things you've left behind. The same is true if you're traveling for a longer period of time.
10 Things You'll Miss About Switzerland I've been on the road and away from Switzerland for a few weeks only so I'm not yet homesick for some Swissness. However, I'm pretty sure from earlier experience that if I'll be it'll be for these ten Swiss things:
Cheese: Nothing beats Swiss cheese. Seriously, it's tasty, locally made and you can make great Fondue or Raclette from it. My favorite: Gruyère.Punctuality: Yes, you're train will actually be arriving and departing on time in Switzerland. And so will busses, trams, boats, cable cars and most other…

Treasures of the Alemannische Wikipedia

I am always looking for resources for Swiss German on the internet. Out of curiosity and personal interest but also to expand my collection of resources for learners of Swiss German. Anyway, I guess I was bound to stumble upon the Alemannische Wikipedia at some point. Though not a purely Swiss German encyclopedia it's probably the closest to one that anything will ever get.
Alemannische Wikipedia (Alemanic Wikipedia) The Alemannische Wikipedia describes itself: "D'alemannischa Wikipedia isch e Enyklopedi en de Dialäkt vom alemannische Sprochraum, also von dr Deitscha Schweiz, vom Elsass, vo Liachtaschtei, vo Oberbade, etc. " which translates to 'The Alemannische Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of the dialects of the alemanic (e.g. germanic) language area which means of the German part of Switzerland, the Elsass, Liechtenstein, etc.'

Indeed, there are several dialects contributing to this wikipedia and it is not always clear in which dialect an article is written…

10 Fun Things to do in Seeland

Today, I would like to share with you my interest in and appreciation for another region of Switzerland: the Seeland (region of lakes).
Switzerland's Lake Region Located (mostly) in the French part of Switzerland, the Seeland covers the region from Biel (or Bienne in French) to Yverdon and Morat (or Murten in German). It includes Lake Bienne, Lake Morat and Lake Neuchatel - which is in fact Switzerland's largest lake completely inside Swiss borders.

Coming from the overcrowded, German speaking canton of Zurich to this comparatively loosely settled French speaking region feels like going on a trip abroad. That's the beauty of Switzerland - several totally different regions make one interesting country!
10 Fun Things to Do in Switzerland's Seeland Here are a few suggestions for fun things to do in the Seeland region:
The obvious on a sunny and warm day: go swimming in one of the three lakes. Lake Neuchatel has beautiful beaches on its Western shore.Go water skiing! If you…

Activities for 1st of August in Switzerland

Switzerland's national holiday the 1st of August is approaching soon and the weather forecast couldn't be better! This year I'll probably be celebrating on the beautiful shores of Lake Neuchatel and watching the fireworks from Estavayer-le-lac, enjoying the Estivale festival and some barbecued meat and cold beer.

Where to go and what to do on 1st of August in Switzerland Almost every larger town or village in Switzerland organizes some event on 1st of August - usually a traditional 1st of August brunch, a concert (mostly with traditional Swiss music) and of course the obligatory firework. I investigated and found other (possibly more interesting and exciting ways) to spend 1st of August.
Zurich region:spend 1st of August on a boat on Lake Zurich either enjoying a good brunch or an evening mealenjoy a BBQ or a fine dinner at the Uto Kulm restaurant on Üetlibergswim in Lake Zurich and have a cool beer afterwards Basel region: visit the 1st of August celebrations on the shores…

ZüriFäscht - Zurich's Summer Festival

Next weekend Zurich is once again gonna be the center of attention. The ZüriFäscht (lit. 'Zurich Festival') will take place from 5-7 July 2019. The ZüriFäscht takes place every third year in the center of Zurich and is the largest festival or event in Switzerland with over 2 million visitors. It's worth a visit and has something to offer to people of all ages!
ZüriFäscht 2019 This year, the Züri Fäscht has the following attractions to offer:
two musical fireworks (on Friday and Saturday night)60 stages with concerts and performances130 festival restaurants and cafesover 300 booths selling food and other thingsamusement park with over 70 ridesspectacular shows in the air, water and on land Public transportation services will be extended during the Züri Fäscht so that everyone will get there without any troubles!
All important information and schedules - and the official ZüriFäscht App - can be found on the ZüriFäscht website.






© 2013 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWI…

Meet Mani Matter, a Troubadour and His Songs

Ask any Swiss person about Mani Matter and they will start singing one of his many songs. Many of us who were not yet born when Matter was publishing his songs learned his songs in school or sang them at the local scouts meeting. The sound of his voice singing in the Bernese dialect and his guitar playing are almost iconic by now. And every now and then a Swiss artist will use the Matter's great lyrics and melodies and create a cover version (e.g. the project Matter Rock by several Swiss artists as a tribute to Matter's work).
Who was Mani Matter? Who was this modern day troubadour? His biography in short: His real name was Hans Peter Matter and he was born in 1936 in Herzogenbuchsee and grew up in Berne (which explains his Bernese accent). Mani was his scout name and he adopted it as a stage name. After school he studied law and practiced for a few years until he became a popular dialect artist in Switzerland. From the late 1960ies he began giving concerts together with the

10 Fun Things to Do on a Sunny Day in Switzerland

Summer is here! Finally! I'm sure many people here in Switzerland would agree after a long winter and terrible spring. People walk around in t-shirts and shorts again (whether that's always a good thing is up to you) and public pools are overflowing with families and children playing in and around the water. Indeed, it is time to go outside to enjoy the beautiful Swiss Summer because it will be gone soon enough.


Some time ago, I wrote a post about fun things to do in Zurich on a summer day with 10 fun and cheap activities to do around Zurich in good weather. Now, I would like to share another 10 fun outdoor activities but this time with ideas that apply to pretty much all of Switzerland.
10 Fun Things to Do on a Sunny Day in SwitzerlandGo hiking: Hiking is one of Switzerland's most popular sports. You basically need a pair of good, sturdy shoes, a comfortable backpack, sunscreen, a hat, water and a picnic lunch and you are good to go. Switzerland has plenty of great hiking…

How to Say 'Football' in Swiss German

Sports are a big part of life in Switzerland whether you actively take part in one of the many regional sports leagues or local sports clubs (e.g. soccer, volleyball, cycling, etc,) or simply enjoy watching it from the comfort of your home.

The most popular sports in Switzerland, however, are not team sports; cycling, hiking and swimming. Other popular Swiss sports include soccer (or football for everyone British), hockey, tennis, handball, volleyball and rowing.

One of the best ways to meet new people in Switzerland is to join a local sports club. To make things a bit easier for you on the way to a successful sports adventure in Switzerland, I collected the most important words in Swiss German for the more popular sports here in Switzerland.
Swiss German Words for SportsSoccer/Football Egge (corner kick) Flangge (cross) Faul (foul) Fuessball (football, soccer, also lit. the soccer ball) Fuessball spiele (to play soccer) also: tschutte Fuessballplatz (soccer field) also: Tschuttiplat…

It's Time for Tour de Suisse

Cycling is a very popular leisure activity in Switzerland. Almost every Swiss person owns a bicycle of some sort - some a very fancy racing bike and some an old squeaking city bike. There are hundreds of bicycle trails all over Switzerland including downhill slopes, nationwide tracks (e.g. from St. Gallen to Geneva) that you can cycle over several days, or regional tracks like the one around lake Zurich.
The Tour de Suisse Once a year, cycling in Switzerland attracts even international attention. The annual Tour de Suisse is one of professional cycling's most famous tours. After the all-famous Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta, the Tour de Suisse is probably one of the more popular and prestigious tours in the cycling calendar and part of the official UCI World Tour.
History of the Tour de Suisse The first Tour de Suisse took place in 1933 with an Austrian winner. The tour became an annual fixture and with the exception of the years during WWII has always b…

The German Alp Dialect Project

If you haven't noticed until now, I have a deep interest in anything connected to languages - especially if it's also connected to Switzerland. That's why I also publish a lot of resources and information on languages in Switzerland - especially our famous Swiss German.
German Alp Dialect Project  I recently stumbled upon a gem of a project about the different dialects of German spoken in the Alps: "Deutsche Dialekte im Alpenraum".

German dialects are compared to each other. On this website, you can actually listen to native speakers of each dialect pronounce the same words and this way have a direct comparison of pronunciation differences (or word differences respectively). Also, the website shows you how dialect changes over the generations as you can listen to speakers of two different generations.

Once you learned everything about German alp dialects you can take the quiz and test yourself.








© 2013 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL R…

How to Say 'Holiday' in Swiss German

The summer months are approaching quickly and with them coming closer Swiss citizens are getting ready for their yearly summer vacation. Many Swiss families make use of the relatively long summer school break to visit a sunnier and warmer country like Italy, Greece or Spain. However, quite a few Swiss people actually prefer to stay at home during their vacation or to travel and hike somewhere in Switzerland.
Swiss German Vocabulary for Travelers Whatever your preferences for this summer, I thought you might wanted to polish your travel vocabulary in Swiss German. This (non conclusive) list of travel terms in Swiss German which I like to call Swiss German Travel Dictionary will provide you with a good start into this venture. If you believe some words or expressions are missing let me know so I can add them! Enjoy!
Swiss German Travel Dictionary aacho (to arrive)
Aakunft (arrival)
abflüge (to takeoff)
Abflug (takeoff)
Abreise (departure)
abreise (to depart)
Auto (car)
autofahre (to dri…

A Visit to Swissminiatur in Melide

Last weekend, I spent a few days in Milano. It's a city worth seeing and as it is only a 3 1/2 hour drive from Zurich almost a must do for every expat in Switzerland. You can take a train to Milano as well which might save you the hassle of being stuck in traffic jam near the Gotthard tunnel. However, driving with your own car give you the options to see some sights along the scenic highway A2 that goes through Switzerland's Italian speaking part, the canton of Ticino.
Swissminiatur - a Ticino Attraction One of the most popular attractions in the Ticino area is the Swissminiatur. As it's name already says, it is a miniature Switzerland. Over 100 miniature versions of famous Swiss buildings, institutions and installations have been built for this park. 
A path leads through the park and the Swissminiatur guide book explains what each miniature is and where the building is located in reality. The miniatures are beautifully made and combined with moving elements such as boat…

Resources for Learners of Swiss German

Speaking the local language will help you greatly in managing life in Switzerland. You'll be treated differently if you speak at least some Swiss German, French or Italian - depending on where you'll live - and don't speak English all the time. It'll help you assimilate to Switzerland and will even make bureaucratic process easier.

I was born in Switzerland to Swiss parents which means that I've been speaking Swiss German all my life. However, I can imagine that the Swiss language is quite tricky to learn for someone who isn't Swiss. Even Germans who live close by sometimes struggle to understand a Swiss person speaking dialect.

So I started collecting resources for learners of Swiss German (and regular German) in Switzerland and online. Here is what I found so far:
Swiss German Skype Lessons: Kathrin offers affordable one-on-one lessons per Skype. There is a ton of free material on her website as well!Züri Slängikon: provides a great overview over Zurich slang …

Online Clothes Shopping #2

A few months ago I wrote about online clothes shopping in Switzerland. In my post I focussed on Zalando and Bonprix because they were most popular and the only online clothes shopping websites I had tried. Recently I tried another supplier for online shopping: La Redoute.


My Experience My experience with La Redoute was fine. The selection is large and the navigation on the website itself alright. My positive experience might also be connected to the fact that there was no need for me to return any clothes.

As it goes with online clothes shopping, the major issue is the return of clothes that don't fit or don't look as expected. According to La Redoute's terms and conditions you can return any items that you didn't like and you won't be charged for them. Also, if you want to exchange clothes (change size or color) you won't have to pay for the re-sending of the clothes, which means you'll pay just once in the first place. However, you will have to pay postal…

You Know You've Been Living in Switzerland Too Long When ...

Someone sent me a link to a really funny post about living in Switzerland a while ago. I was doing some organizing in my inbox today and stumbled upon it again. It's really very entertaining so I thought I'd share it with everyone. Maybe you'll recognize yourself or someone you know in this list.

You know you've been living in Switzerland too long when......you think it's economically wasteful to have more than one brand of a product in a store. ...you think spontaneity is OK, as long as it's planned. ...you think getting up early is good. ...you get upset in the train when a foreign tourist opens the window causing a draft to go down your back. ...you actually get interested in the local elections. ...you know the words to the Swiss national anthem. ...you expect the shop clerk to say goodbye after you purchase something. ...you wait for the shop clerk to open the door to let you out of their shop. ...you prefer to buy in small shops even though its more expens…

Why You Should Buy a 9 O'Clock Pass

I believe everyone would agree that the system of public transportation here in Switzerland is one of the best in the world. Busses and trains and even boats run regularly to almost any city, town and village - and mostly right on time.

However, there is one major downside to the Swiss system of public transportation: the prices. Compared to most countries in the world it is ridiculously expensive to ride a bus, tram or a train. For example, the one hour train ride from Basel to Zurich costos more than 30 CHF. Prices do get more reasonable if you purchase a half price card (called Halbtax) or a yearly/monthly pass for a specific region or route. There are ways to save money on public transportation in Switzerland but it still remains costly.
Saving Money with the 9 o'Clock Pass In the Zurich area you have an additional option to travel cheaper: the 9 o'clock pass (called 9-Uhr-Pass in German). This day pass allows you to travel freely on boats, trains, busses and tram in the …

How to Say 'Mother-in-Law' in Swiss German

It's the family season of the year for me. Birthday celebrations and other family gatherings somehow accumulate in the months of April and May. In Swiss German we often call family gatherings 'Familieschluuch' which literally means 'family hose' and refers to an 'obligatory family gathering' or 'family gathering where your presence is expected'.

Personally, I agree that it's nicer to sit outside in the afternoon with the family and enjoy the sun, a good steak and a cold beer than sitting cooped up in a living room and watch the rain fall outside. However, it might just as well be true that some people use their birthdays to show off their new barbecue equipment or garden furniture. I don't disapprove.
Dictionary of Family Members in Swiss German Anyhow, I'm using the opportunity of this family season to share with you a short dictionary of family members in Swiss German. Most of them are quite similar to the German equivalents but there…

A Popular Swiss First Name

I recently had a conversation with one of my friends from abroad about the popularity of my name. As it is, my name "Irene" seems to be a quite normal and fairly popular name in English speaking countries. Living in Switzerland, however, it always seemed to me a name more suitable for grandmothers than for someone my age. While growing up I even was so unhappy with my name that I  dreamed of having a more popular name like Daniela or Sabrina.
The name 'Irene' Luckily, I wasn't able to change my first name then because I started to like my name when I began to travel the world. Not only has "Irene" a beautiful meaning (it means 'peaceful') but it's also a very international name. Most western languages have their own version of it:
German: IreneEnglish: IreneFrench: IrèneItalian: IreneSpanish: IreneRussian: IrinaGreek: IriniPortuguese: Irene Obviously, the pronunciations vary a bit more than the spelling suggests. 
Now, back in Switzerland I a…

Schätzli, Schnüggel and Müüsli - Terms of Endearment in Swiss German

If you've ever been invited to the home of a Swiss couple, you are probably familiar with the most popular Swiss German term of endearment "Schätzli" ('little treasure') or one of it's many varieties like e.g. "Schatz" or "Schätzeli". Obviously, this is not the only pet name used by Swiss couples (or parents for that matter). Like many other languages, Swiss German offers a wide variety of words and phrases that you can use to address your loved one.
Swiss German Terms of Endearment What most of these pet names have in common is the ending "-li" which basically turns the thing or person a word refers to into something small or cute. For example "Haus" means house and "Hüüsli" means small house. Plus, this ending "-li" can also be added to first names as a means of endearment, e.g. Benjaminli, Estherli or Fabienneli.

I tried to come up with a collection of Swiss German pet names but realized I only k…