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.
12 Replies to “Swiss Christmas Cookies (Wiehnachtsguezli)”
Hi! I lived in Basel for 5 years, then just outside of Morges, VD for another 5 years. I love your site! Do you have a recipe for Dreikönige Brot?
Hello and thank you! So glad you like the blog. I had a busy December so the Dreikönigsbrot recipe will have to wait till next year I think!
What do you think of using the pre-made Xmas cookie dough? 🙂
The doughs are good! The only problem is those cookies taste like the shop bought ones, and the one special thing about Swiss Christmas cookies is that everyone‘s taste a bit different which is why it‘s so lovely to receive cookies from someone else. This is why I always make my own dough 🙂
[…] balls) and the Sables. I’m publishing my favourite Swiss Christmas cookie recipes on my Little Zurich Kitchen blog throughout December this […]
Any tips on making Mailaenderli with Gluten Free flour please? I try but they are so hard to cut without falling apart, even with Xantham gum. Thank you!
No unfortunately not, I’m sorry!
Hi, I am from Costa Rica and I would like to get the cookie Book, where can I buy it?
Hi, it’s this one. It’s in German only though https://www.orellfuessli.ch/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID45415063.html
Hello! Im so excited that i found your wonderful site. My family originated from Switzerland and i have tried my best to bring our tradition back to life. I have a recipe from my great grandmother for Pear Bread or Biereweggae. I make it every year for Christmas but i have tried googling other recipes but haven’t found any. Have you heard of this and have you ever made it?
Hi Megan, yes I do know Birenweggen, I love eating it but have never made it myself!
In response to Megan Immos regarding Birewegge Recipes.
It’s spelled a bit different and here are some recipes – Enjoy!
and : A Guete!!!”