How to celebrate Heilige Drei Könige

The 6th of January is Heilige Drei Könige Tag or Drei-Königs-Tag (Epiphany), a day which importance is two-fold in Switzerland. While not many Swiss celebrate the day for the actual religious reasons anymore, most people here will get a Dreikönigskuchen (three kings bread), a sweet bread with or without raisins inside and coarse sugar or sliced almonds on top. The bread is being shared within the family – each family member gets to eat one or two pieces of the bread. Only one of the bread pieces contains a special object, which is usually a white plastic king if the bread is shop-bought or an almond if it’s home-made. The person who has the special object gets to wear the golden cardboard crown, and in many families this person can decide over family matters all day long, like a king or queen.


Most people buy their Dreikönigskuchen in a bakery or a supermarket instead of making their own, but you could easily adapt my Gritibänz recipe or Zopf recipe, add some raisins if you like, shape the bread into the famous Dreikönigskuchen shape, paint with egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake.

The other reason why the Drei-Königs-Tag is of importance in Switzerland is because for many Swiss it marks the day the Christmas tree is being de-decorated and thrown out in the rubbish. Since we traditionally use real candles on our trees, due to fire safety reasons the trees need to be still fresh on Christmas day – this is one of the reasons why, unlike the British and the US Americans, we only buy our trees just before Christmas.

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6 Replies to “How to celebrate Heilige Drei Könige”

  1. I must be secretly Swiss – I am itching to get rid of that tree now (and was planning to do it tomorrow anyway, ha!)

  2. Do you have a recipe for Dreikönigsbrot?

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen says: Reply

      Not this year, maybe next! There are a few German language ones around…

  3. Although I know the legend of “Heilige Drei Könige”, I´ve never heard of this special Dreikönigsbrot. Thank you for the inspiration – the first thing tomorrow I´m heading to our local bakery to look for Dreikönigsbrot 🙂

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen says: Reply

      You’re welcome. And good luck with fiding the king 🙂

  4. I made our own Dreikönigskuchen this year, using the Swissmilk recipe. Turned out delicious.

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