Yes. I know. It is only the 22nd of November. We haven’t even had the first Sunday in Advent.
Nevertheless, christmas time has officially started in our small Swiss town. This morning, the christmas tree was installed in front of our house. With the help of seven or eight people and several attempts it is now awaiting the evening when the lights will be switched on.
We also visited the christmas market today. Considering that today is not even close to christmas and considering all the colorful autumn trees that you can still find these days it did feel a bit weird to stroll around the christmas market. However, a greater force made us go there…the fact that the market only takes place today.
It is one of these small differences between Germany and Switzerland that you are not really aware of until you spend more time in the other country. Christmas markets are big in Germany. Glühwein, gingerbread, honey candles, christmas stars, roasted almonds, spices and christmas decoration are inevitably linked to the christmas time (and unfortunately so are the loud, annoying and endlessly played christmas songs at the merry-go-rounds). I wasn’t really aware that this whole concept is typically German until we lived in Edinburgh and figured out that there is a German christmas market right on Princess Street every year (with all the obligatory stalls and original, german-speaking vendors…).
There are beautiful christmas markets in Switzerland too. With some fine differences. While christmas markets in Germany normally start on the first weekend in Advent (usually the last weekend in November) and last until the weekend before christmas, most Swiss christmas markets only last for a couple of days. And evidently start much earlier. Logically a small town like ours does not have the economic power to turn four weeks of christmas market into a success, so I do understand the shorter period (even if it would be nice to have at least a weekend instead of a single day). But even in bigger cities many christmas markets only last a week and I am not really sure why. Is it because Swiss and Germans simply have a different way of visiting christmas markets? (in Germany even students in their last year of school would go there during their break and drink a Glühwein before going back to school).
Also the products which are sold on the markets differ slightly from country to country. Naturally, stalls selling Swiss cheese and dried salami are big here! So are the stalls selling raclette. And the bratwurst stall is never complete without the obligatory cervelat.
But now that I had my first Glühwein on the christmas market I am happy to wait for the last leaves to fall and for my Schwibbbogen to arrive. Which will be lightened on the first weekend of Advent, and not a day earlier!