7 traditions observed at Easter in Switzerland

7 traditions observed at Easter in Switzerland

Easter is an important time for many people around the world. The holiday officially commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, but nowadays is often celebrated by non-Christians as well as a time for chocolate, feasting, and gatherings with family. Here are some of the interesting traditions observed at Easter in Switzerland.

Eggcelent Swiss Easter traditions

While eggs and chocolates are also typical parts of a Swiss Easter, the alpine nation has plenty of other customs you might want to partake in.

1. Egg smash

The egg smash, also known as Eiertütschen, is a fun Easter game that you might come across in Switzerland. The goal is to break someone else’s hard-boiled egg without damaging your own, with the winner getting to eat the opponent's egg.

In larger Swiss cities like Bern, egg-smashing competitions are organised, but in most smaller towns the event is held at home. This tradition actually goes back a few centuries but is still widely practised today.

2. Chlefeli

The Chlefeli is a musical instrument made from carved hardwood that is indented on one end. By holding a few of them in your hand and turning your wrist, the wooden pieces click together, making rhythmic beats. This musical instrument was previously used during Easter parades organised by the Catholic Church, and for this reason, it has become associated with the holiday.

Video: BauernZeitung / YouTube

3. Weeping Women 

On Good Friday, in Romont, Canton Fribourg, the intriguing tradition of the weeping women takes place. It is a religious event that is held after Friday mass to mourn the death of Jesus Christ.

Midway through the mass, around 20 local women dressed all in black leave the church to begin a small procession around the town, accompanied by a hooded man carrying a large cross, and another woman who embodies the Virgin Mary. The group is then joined by priests, choirboys, and the rest of the congregation.

The ceremony embodies the event of the ascension of Christ to Golgotha, which is where he was then crucified. The women carry red cushions bearing different objects representing the crucifixion of Christ, including a hammer, nails, a crown of thorns and a whip. The entire ceremony is conducted in complete silence and has become a major attraction in recent years. 

4. Blue egg swim

The blue egg swim is a tradition held on Easter Monday on Lake Greifensee in Canton Zurich. On the morning of Easter Monday, people swim 20 metres to the diving platform where they get out of the water, capture an egg from the pile on the platform, and return it safely to the shore. The rewards for their efforts are egg soup, tea, punch and kafi lutz, which is a Swiss coffee with brandy. 

Video: Augustine Parani / YouTube

5. Fountain decorating

In Nyon on Lake Geneva, every Easter there is a competition to decorate the fountains of the city. Schoolchildren, local businesses, clubs and societies take on the challenge, and they even arrange a treasure hunt connecting the decorated fountains. There is a word or phrase that is hidden in the treasure hunt, and if you discover it, you can win a prize from the local shops.

6. Zwänzgerle

Zwänzgerle is an Easter tradition that can be simply translated as “20-rappen (cent) coin throwing”, taking place on Easter Monday in Zurich. During the game, adults throw a 20-rappen coin at hard-boiled eggs held out by children, with the aim of lodging the coin in the egg. If they are successful, the thrower gets to keep the coin and egg. The task is quite difficult, and many children find delight in the coins falling on the ground.

7. Easter Tree

Decorating eggs for Easter is common in many parts of the world, but Switzerland takes this a step further by making Easter trees. This tradition involves setting out a small vase filled with tree branches, from which they hang decorated Easter eggs. The tradition, known as Osterbäumli, commemorates the arrival of spring, and adds a gorgeous drop of colour to your living room!

Easter in Switzerland

These interesting Easter traditions have become an integral part of Swiss culture. Whether you'll be decorating eggs and eating chocolate, or heading to Fribourg to witness the weeping women, we wish you a happy Easter!

Eesha Wirk


Eesha Wirk

Eesha studied in the United States, obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Studio Art. She is currently getting her Research Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In...

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