Who brings Easter eggs to children in Switzerland?

Who brings Easter eggs to children in Switzerland?

One of the great joys of Easter in Switzerland has to be hiding chocolate eggs around the house or outdoors for people to find, but who delivers those sweet treats to people in the alpine nation? Here’s all you need to know about the Easter bunny, why the creature is known for giving out eggs, and whether any other Swiss animals or things are known to give young people their much-needed fix of chocolate over the holidays.

Easter eggs in Switzerland

Whether they be chocolate or ornate and hard-boiled, eggs are a central part of the Easter tradition in Switzerland and across the world. Nationwide, they are used to either adorn the trees and monuments of local towns and cities or as a way of giving both young and old a licence to indulge in a good helping of chocolate.

Why do we celebrate Easter with eggs?

From the very beginning of human civilisation, eggs have been used to symbolise rebirth and life - themes integral to the Easter tradition. For instance, in pre-dynastic Egypt and the early Mesopotamian civilisations, ostrich and other birds' eggs were often painted and placed in front of graves to symbolise the circle of life.

While it remains unclear how eggs became entwined with Easter, Christian doctrine has often borrowed traditions and symbols from their pagan forebears. Notable examples include the Celtic feast of Samhain, which is said to have inspired Halloween, and the various influences Roman celebrations have had on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Therefore, it is possible that the egg tradition was simply adopted by Christians in the same way.

History of the Easter egg in Switzerland

Much like in the rest of Europe, the Easter egg first caught on in Switzerland in the 13th century. However, these eggs were always hard-boiled and decorated in vibrant colours, as chocolate would not find its way to the alpine nation until it was introduced to Europe in the 1500s.

It was during the 19th and 20th centuries that the practice of giving and receiving chocolate eggs was first introduced and spread across Swiss cantons. Thanks to Switzerland’s tradition of making great chocolate, local chocolatiers took full advantage of the Easter season by producing chocolate eggs of various sizes, shaping the holiday as we know it today.

Swiss traditions with Easter eggs

Along with the traditional egg hunt, the humble egg is part of many Swiss Easter traditions. This includes Swiss egg decorating - where traditional ingredients are used to paint eggs in colourful styles before they are arranged outdoors - the egg smash or Eiertütschen - a competition similar to conkers where two opponents try to smash each other’s eggs - and the traditional Blue Egg Swim on the Greifensee in Canton Zurich.

Easter egg display Switzerland

Which animal brings Easter eggs in Switzerland?

Over the years, the thing or animal that brings Easter eggs in Switzerland has evolved. This is mainly due to influences from outside the country that have shaped the Easter tradition.

Cuckoo bird

In many parts of Switzerland, the cuckoo is said to be originally responsible for giving out eggs at Easter - however, those eggs were always hard-boiled or decorated, not chocolate. A symbol of growth and rebirth in its own right, the bird was responsible for bringing eggs to most children across the alpine nation until the 18th century.

Folklore has it that during Eastertime the children of Switzerland (especially in Valais) placed fake or wooden eggs around forests, then called out “Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” The cuckoo was then said to respond in kind by laying real eggs around for the kids to find.

Church bells

In a tradition that originally comes from France, some communities in French-speaking Switzerland say that church bells are responsible for giving people Easter eggs. The story goes that after Catholic church bells fall silent on Holy Thursday, they travel across the world to Rome. They then return on Easter Sunday, bringing with them eggs, casseroles and other delicacies.

Easter bunny

The most recent, well-known and nationwide deliverer of sweet treats in Switzerland has to be the Easter bunny (Osterhase, Lapin de Pâques, Coniglietto di Pasqua). Much like eggs, the brown hare has a long history of being associated with rebirth, a central part of the Easter story in Christianity.

However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that English and German folklore brought eggs and the brown hare together as festive symbols of rebirth and resurrection. This was shown in the thesis of Johannes Richier, a doctor from Frankfurt, who wrote in 1682 of a tradition in Rhineland-Palatinate and Alsace, where children would hunt for Easter eggs “laid” in the bushes by a rabbit, or at least that was the “fable that is told to the naive and children”.

While the full story of the Easter bunny remains as cloudy as the milk chocolate it is said to deliver, experts believe that the tradition spread from Germany to Switzerland in the 18th century. One of the first mentions of the Osterhase in Switzerland comes from a Swiss German children's song of the same name, which was first written down in 1789.

However, the Easter bunny’s dominance over the alpine nation was likely cemented by chocolatiers, who started to create chocolate recreations of the brown hare to sell during Easter.

Lindt gold Easter bunny

The most iconic of these is the Lindt Gold Bunny, which was first sold to the public in 1952. The golden wrapping, paper necklace and bell are perhaps the most common symbols people think of when they think of Switzerland, chocolate and Easter. 

You choose which animal brings Easter eggs to your children! 

Of course, in the modern day, it is really up to you which animal brings Easter treats to your children. From bunnies to cuckoos to the superheroes that are parents, when it comes to giving sweet treats to those you love, there is no dress code.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

Read more



Leave a comment