Easter has always been my favourite Swiss holiday – once Easter is here the cold and grey winter days are nearing their end and we can look forward to more sun and warmth. If you want to celebrate Easter Swiss-style this year or simply want to learn how the Swiss do celebrate it, here’s a list of the most important Easter features.
Osterchüechli. You can either buy or make these little treats. I’ll upload a recipe for homemade ones soon. If you want to buy them I recommend a bakery or the Migros takeaway counter. Osterchüechli (lit. little Easter cakes) are made of a sweet shortcrust pastry and a rice or semolina filling, and either with or without raisins. They’re usually sold as small cakes but you can also buy a large Osterchueche. We love them and look forward to them each Easter. Photo: Migros
Easter egg dying. Ostereier färbe is another must for a Swiss Easter. You can buy various egg colours in the supermarkets: there are some to dip the eggs into coloured water, others to paint them with paintbrushes (see above monster eggs photo), and you can also get a paste which you smear onto the eggs wearing plastic gloves which makes lovely marbled eggs. For some more elaborate patterns you can use red and brown onion peelings as a colour and nature objects to create beautiful pictures. This is the traditional Swiss way of dying Easter eggs. Get the instructions here. Photo: assembleshop.blogspot.ch
Eiertütsch. (Egg smash). Aim of this game is to find out whose egg is the strongest. Each person chooses an egg and teams up with another person. First these two people hit the flat sides of the eggs against each other’s eggs, then the pointy sides. The person whose egg stays intact, wins. If both people have one injure side by now, they repeat the procedure with the still unbroken side. While this is a traditional Easter game which is being played in people’s homes and at large community and church Easter gatherings, we do this all year round at home too when two people eat a hard-boiled egg, because, who doesn’t like a little challenge every once in a while!
Easter Vigil. The Catholic Easter Vigil (Osternachtsmesse) is one of the most magic Easter traditions in Switzerland; the church is dark initially, then the light is being brought in from the outside Easter fire and hundreds of candles are being lit and the most moving and beautiful of Christian church hymns are being sung. The service usually commences at around 9 or 10pm and everyone is welcome to attend, whether or not you’re a Catholic. Check your local church’s website for exact times. Photo: Pimthida (Flickr)
Easter brunch. When I was a child, Easter Sunday morning was spent in church followed by Easter lunch at home, traditionally with an Easter lamb dish or any other roast. These days it’s either still the traditional Easter lunch or, the more modern version, the Easter brunch. Instead of going to church, many Swiss these days meet at around 11am with family or friends for an extensive brunch with Easter eggs, Zopf, other bread, cheese, cold meats, birchermüesli and so on. For making your own Easter Zopf bread bunnies or egg nests, check out our recipe here.
Osterbaum. The Osterbaum (easter tree) consists of some freshly cut tree sprigs placed in a flower vase and decorated with dyed eggs (real blown out ones or fake ones). The Easter tree is being placed on the dining table or somewhere in the living room and it’s a lovely reminder that spring is around the corner – even more so if you can find sprouting sprigs. Photo: Mario Spann (Flickr)
Easter treats. Let’s not forget the Easter treats. My favourite chocolate Easter bunnies are the high-quality ones available at Swiss bakeries and artisan chocolate shops. They’re not cheap though, so as a secondary choice I’d always go for the Frey brand from Migros which, for me personally, is the best supermarket chocolate brand in Switzerland. I also love the Gelée Eili (sugar coated, halved jelly eggs), the Nougat Eili (small nougat eggs with chocolate filling) and the large Nougateier (nougat eggs without filling) – all of these are available in Migros and Coop. Photo: Nougatei (Coop)
Easter egg hunt. On Easter Sunday, hide your coloured eggs, chocolate bunnies, Easter sweets and some small toys either outside or in the house. Give your children (or grown-ups) a basket or bag and let them go and find all the treats.
Eierbrötli. These small egg breads are a great way for using up all those Easter eggs. Take a slice of bread, spread butter on it, then sliced eggs, and finally sprinkle them with chopped chives and salt.