Bringing the New Year with a Flair of Unique Swiss Traditions

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With diverse mind-blowing fireworks that draw tourists’ attention, as well as unique musical and dancing performances, Switzerland welcomes the magnificent new year. It is the ideal location for New Year’s Eve celebrations, whether you want to go to wild parties or just hang out with your family at home, or go for some wine and dine time with your friends, New Year’s Eve in Switzerland is spectacular, I assure you of that. 

But every nation observes the new year in accordance with its unique traditions and customs. Each custom and tradition seeks to bring the old year to a joyful close and the new year with fresh aspirations and commitments. Switzerland is not any different. So before you ring in the next year, let’s explore some traditions that will show you how the Swiss usher in a new year.

1. Chant da Goita in Bergün

Locals frequently gather in a shared area to sing together in several Grison communes. For example, see  Bergün, where locals and guests gather in the Oberdorf at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve. Up until just before midnight, they would start singing songs in both German and Romansch. The most significant song at this point is Ün mumaint e l’ura batta, which means “only a few seconds more”

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Swiss Celebration of a New Year | My Swiss Story

2. The Bonfire in St. Gallan

This tradition in Switzerland follows the concept of ‘iron fights iron’ and believes that horrific demons can be repelled by even more terrifying beasts. According to mythology, the wicked Knight Rappenstein was cursed and exiled for all eternity to a canyon located deep inside the earth because of his evil deeds. He can only get out on New Year’s Eve. But the bonfire builders are ready for him as he passes through town on his white horse. They use ratchets and bells to create an awful commotion. They dance around their fire wearing terrifying masks made of animal bones and teeth and chant songs to cast curses. They also set fire to a hideous scarecrow that was designed after the ruthless and the monster is sent back to his abyss in this way, at least for another year. So the next time you sit for a bonfire, think about how you are driving away demons while barbecuing your marshmallows!

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Swiss Celebration of a New Year | My Swiss Story

3. Trychler in Meiringen

Between Christmas and New Year’s, drummers and bell ringers are prevalent in the Bernese Alps, particularly in the Haslital valley. The Trychler are thought to drive evil away with their repetitive chiming. The numerous groups get together in Meiringen on New Year’s Eve, the final day of the customary Trychler week, for one more “bell dorado” demon-killing ritual. If you’re lucky, you might see the procession that still represents this tradition!

4. Räuchle in Appenzell

Families frequently use a pan that contains hot coal and frankincense in homes. The family’s head could burn incense throughout their entire property, including the house, barn, and surrounding area. The family will then gather in the living room for prayers against mishaps and evil. Today, the community receives it more as a Christian blessing. But earlier in Appenzell, altar boys would stroll the streets carrying smoking barrels. It used to be thought that dispersing frankincense would ward off devils. This custom is repeated thrice – On Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Epiphany.

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Swiss Celebration of a New Year | My Swiss Story

5. Juniper Parade in Laupen

Juniper is an indigenous therapy. In the mountains, people continue to burn juniper as a form of incense to ward off evil spirits in their homes and farms. According to legends, a group with a leader and his twelve broom men used to parade from the castle to the hills in their scariest costumes.They would carry long, slender juniper brooms and wear ominous wooden masks. Pig bladders dangled from their belts like strange balloons. Bell-ringers would blare an unbearable noise behind them. When the men would arrive at the village, They would form a circle, lower their brooms and drive them into the throng of audience, this was said to frighten the evil spirits. So the next time someone burns Juniper around you, you know what they are trying to do!

6. The Smith of Luck in Möhlin

At precisely 11:53 p.m., they begin forging the horseshoe at the Schmittenbrücke bridge in Möhlin. The horseshoe is pounded for the first time, and then it is heated once again. The new horseshoe is finished by 0:03 AM. A blacksmith has been creating a horseshoe on New Year’s Eve for more than sixty years now. This act couldn’t be more symbolic because the process starts in the old year and ends in the new year. It was only a spur-of-the-moment suggestion in 1956, but the townspeople urged they carry on this tradition every year after that.

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Swiss Celebration of a New Year | My Swiss Story

In addition, the Swiss focus their New Year’s celebrations on sweet treats, dropping ice cream on the ground to celebrate the 31st of December. On New Year’s Day, many individuals think that doing so will bring them luck. Additionally, they participate in the custom of dressing up in costumes, which is believed to drive away evil spirits and welcome good ones into people’s life. 

One of the most beautiful ways to usher in a new year is in Switzerland. You can spend the evening having fun, eating, and listening to music because there are so many ways to amuse yourself. And this time you can have old traditions backing your plans!

Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – swiss travel, ex-pat living, mental health, nutrition, wellness, autumn, and activities for children. Stay well and stay with us!

To read posts from November, click here

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