Skip to main content

A Swiss Girl Called Heidi

Switzerland is famous for its mountains, chocolate, watches and cheeses but have you ever wondered if there are any famous Swiss people? In sports Roger Federer is well known and loved all around the globe, Henry Dunant founded the Red Cross and had great impact on world health, Julius Maggi changed the kitchens of the world with his Maggi sauce, and Sepp Blatter was the (very controversial) head of FIFA.

There are more Swiss people, e.g. scientists and scholars, who have or are well known for their achievements. However, I believe the most famous Swiss person has never actually lived but rather leads a fictional life in many books and television series all over the world: Heidi.

The Creation of Heidi

Heidi was created by Swiss author Johanna Spyri and two books covering her adventures and life in Switzerland were first published in 1880. As a young orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather, the Alp-Öhi, who after some initial resentment takes to the girl and grows to love her. Heidi lives through three years full of adventures and experiences in the mountains together with her grandfather and local goatherd Peter. These three years are usually what is depicted in television and films about Heidi even though the original story continues with Heidi being sent to Frankfurt am Main to be a hired companion to Clara.

Adaptions of the Heidi Books

The most famous spinoff or adaptation of the Heidi books is probably the Japanese television series "Heidi, Girl of the Alpes" that has been broadcast worldwide and translated into many languages. Check out this compilation or one of these languages:
The television series made Heidi so famous that the name Heidi and its versions has become quite frequent in countries all over the world. It's common in Sweden, Norway, has variants in Spanish such as Haydee, and is used as Heidi or Heidy in English speaking countries. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Japanese or Indian Heidis living quiet lives in their countries. The most famous Heidi today is probably German model and celebrity Heidi Klum.




  1. There was an Italian version too! And I have checked with friends from other countries that all the versions were opened by the same tune with the same words!
    It is an amazing piece of Swiss culture available for kids of every language!

    1. Yes! It exists in almost every major language... :)

  2. What a wonderful post. Brings back many memories. I ysed to watch the German version of the Heidi TV series many years ago.

  3. My daughter watches the cartoon version in Italian nowadays! ;)

    1. Great! I recently got introduced to the South American version by a friend... :)

  4. I just found your site looking for expat blogs in Switzerland and love it. I had actually wondered about 'famous' people from Switzerland and the most common name I recognize here is the character Heidi. :) Just moved to Switzerland (near Zurich) from San Francisco and I have a my fashion blog which is now in Swiss mode. It's so fun to see others. Keep up the great site!!


    1. Hey Dale
      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll have a great time in Switzerland. If you like cafes you should check out Babu's in Zurich near the main station... :)


Post a Comment

You have something to add or would like to ask a question? I would love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

A Typical Swiss Birthday Party

My son and I recently attended a birthday party here in Cocachimba, Peru. It was the birthday of one of the kids in the village and since it's such a small place, almost everyone is invited. To be honest, I don't like going to children's birthday parties - or grown up's birthday parties - because there is usually too much noise and fuss and chaos. My husband usually takes it on himself to accompany our son to these birthdays but this time he was away so I had to step in.

If you've never been to a Peruvian birthday party, let me tell you one thing: it's loud and crowded! There is dancing and food and once in a while people are trying to say something above the deafening noise of the music. I guess, if you grew up with this it's probably normal and enjoyable but for me it was way too much noise. I could see all the children's ear go deaf in my minds eyes. Argh. Probably one of those cultural differences you'll have as a foreigner.
Memories of Birthda…

How to Spot a Swiss Person

As an expat one usually spots fellow expats right away. It's not only the language or the looks of people but rather the little peculiarities of life that seem so normal at home that give us away while abroad. Obviously, it's a cliche that all people from the same place (country, city, continent) behave in the same way and I am far from making that claim. However, growing up in a certain surrounding does rub off on people's behavior and some similarities can certainly be observed.

This is also true for Swiss people. According to the Swiss stereotype, we are a clean, punctual and strictly organized people. However, there are many exceptions like my Swiss friend who is always late or my brother whose room was a total mess while growing up. Yet, although they do not fit the description of a typical Swiss person, they still have some traits that give them away as Swiss. The same is probably true for myself - if I like it or not.
10 Signs you are dealing with a Swiss Person So,…

What I've Written about Swiss German so far

Over the last few years I've written quite a few articles about languages in Switzerland in general with a special focus on Swiss German. Thanks to Google Analytics, I know that many people visit my blog to find out more about this language and maybe even learn a few words or phrases on the way.

Hence, I decided to compile an ordered list of all language related articles of this blog. Hopefully, you'll find it helpful to learn a few new words or find out more about Swiss German.
Overview over all languages of Switzerland:Four Official Languages of Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch are the official languages of Switzerland. Different Swiss German Dialects: What are the dialects of German spoken in Switzerland? Great overview with examples for several dialects.Swiss German 101: Short introduction to Swiss German with a basic glossaryOnline Resources for Learners of Swiss German: List with free resources for learning Swiss German over the internetSwiss German Di…