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How the Swiss Celebrate the New Year

The year is coming to an end and all around the world people are celebrating the beginning of a new year. Although everyone puts up a party for the same reason, there are some distinct differences between different parties around the globe. Every country and place has its own unique traditions on how to celebrate new years eve. People in Peru, for example, wear yellow for luck in the coming year, Danish people break old dishes on each other's doors and Germans pour lead into water in order to find out what will happen in the new year.

Swiss New Year's Traditions

Despite being an very small country, Switzerland generally has a lot of beautiful and unique traditions. This is certainly also true for the festivities surrounding the end of a year and the beginning of another. Now, there might be differences from canton to canton, region to region or even family to family but there are a few things that form part of the New Years tradition almost all over Switzerland.

We drink Rimuss

When adults fill their glasses with champagne to toast the beginning of the new year, children receive their champagne glass filled with Rimuss. It's a sparkly drink that comes in a champagne-like bottle but has not alcohol. There was even a famous commercial a few years ago that said: "Mit Rimuss stossed alli aa!" (= with Rimuss everyone can toast). After all, everyone wants a little chin-chin to welcome in the new year.

We listen to the Church Bells ring

If you've ever been to Switzerland, you'll know that there are churches in almost all the villages and towns. In fact, the church bells ring every full hour and every 15 minutes (usually just one, two or three rings) to give you the time of the day. I assume this is a leftover from times when not everyone had watches and people working in the fields would know the time of the day from hearing the bells ring.

On New Years Eve, just before midnight, church bells all over Switzerland will start ringing and swinging for a few minutes. This is what we call ringing out the old year. It's a way to say goodbye to the old year and to everything that happened during it. Many people will actually go outside to listen to the bells or at least open their windows or balcony door even if its really cold outside. It's a usually a quiet and pensive moment and personally I enjoy this moment of reflection very much.

The bells are followed by a quiet time and then there's the traditional twelve chimes that mark midnight and the beginning of a new day and year. We count every stroke of the clock and toast our champagne glasses after number twelve.

Afterwards, there is some more bell ringing to welcome in the new year and everyone returns to their cozy homes to continue the celebration.

We watch Dinner for One

Every year on December 31st Swiss television airs this classic sketch with May Warden and Freddy Frinton. Even though almost everyone knows the short film inside out, we still watch it every year and laugh when the tipsy (and later very drunk) butler stumbles over the tiger head. It's simply part of the tradition and we've been doing it since early childhood. Of course, you can watch this classic on youtube: Dinner for one.

Guets Neus! Happy New Year!



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