Guezle: the process of making Christmas cookies
Home-made Wiehnachtsguezli (Christmas cookies) are a big thing in Switzerland. Sometime in November everyone stocks up on sugar, flour, grated nuts, chocolate, butter and whatever else is needed for the cookies. The cookies are baked by all age groups; mothers bake with their children, the young urbanites bake either alone or together with friends while sharing a glass of wine, the retired ladies making their all-time family favourites home alone, remembering the times with their own small children at home. You know that an activity is of significance in a culture if there’s a specially created word for it; we Swiss do have a (Swiss German) expression for the activity of Christmas cookies making. It’s called guezle and it’s a verb. We don’t use this expression during the year if we bake cookies. Guezle is the activity of making cookies only at Christmas time. In December, you’ll often hear people ask each other ‘tuesch das Jahr guezle?’ (are you baking Christmas cookies this year?), ‘das Wuchenend tüend mir guezle’ (we’re going to bake Christmas cookies this weekend) and so on.
What do people do with all those cookies?
A fair share of the baked cookies will be eaten by the bakers and their family members – before Christmas or during the Christmas days. But many people, like me, easily bake 5-10 varieties, which means a definite oversupply of cookies. People give away smaller amounts of cookies in small, transparent cookie bags which can be bought in any supermarket in December, or larger amounts in cookies tin boxes which are normally returned to the baker once finished. So, if you want to be really Swiss this Christmas, bake a few batches of cookies, pack them into small cookie bags and give them away to friends and neighbours. I can guarantee you they will be delighted.
By the way – you don’t need to stress about baking them all at once. All cookies are easily freezable. I usually start early December and take it very easy, storing all the finished ones in the freezer and take them out when needed.
Below are the recipes of my favourite cookies, those I aim to bake every year. The kids love to help too, which makes it a perfect activity for cold, grey December afternoons.
Here are the recipes of some of the cookies I bake every December. I’ll upload more during December when I bake them.