Crowns, cookies and calendars

December 9, 2009, 2 Comments

All I really remember from Advent in Britain is the kitschy Blue Peter Advent crown. Two wire coathangers, lots of tinsel and some sticky tape, all put together by John Noakes; candles were allowed back then but now it would be baubles only. No such worries about Health & Safety here, where even the Christmas trees can have real candles, so all across Switzerland another candle was lit yesterday. Two down, two to go.

Swiss Advent calendars aren’t just glittery bits of cardboard with a sad picture of a yule log behind a door. They’re works of art, big enough to house a family of four or with a Russian masterpiece as their picture. But the most traditional ones are 3D, made up of 24 little boxes or pouches, each with a tiny present inside. That makes them far more interesting to open, and re-usable every year. The Swiss are great re-users and recyclers.

Most important of all are the Advent cookies, or Guetzli. Everyone spends days making hundreds of tiny biscuits in the shape of stars, trees, or moons, and all individually decorated. These are not really for eating but for giving to guests after dinner or wrapping them up as presents. Half the point seems to be finding out if your neighbour’s cookies are better than yours. Which of course they aren’t. I cheat and buy mine, and I’m probably not the only one. The question is – would you cheat?

2 Comments on "Crowns, cookies and calendars"

  1. Jane Fuhrimann Wednesday December 9th, 2009 at 08:55 PM · Reply

    Love the new blog Diccon!
    Have such fond memories of the Blue Peter Advent crown, made it one year, 1979 i think, and was so proud of my artistic skill. Can’t quite bring myself to make one with my children though, but did make wonderfully kitsch salt dough xmas figures and letters today to decorate the flat, much to the horror of my Swiss husband!! Yes, admit to cheating, at least when it comes to Christmas cookies! Always buy the ready-made mixture from Migros. Of course the real talent is then needed to roll out the dough and cut out snowmen, christmas trees and angels!! Always pleased with the result even though someone else has really done all the hard work!!

  2. swisswatching Thursday December 10th, 2009 at 07:30 AM · Reply

    I think buying the ready-made dough is only half-cheating, Jane. As you say, some degree of talent is needed to roll and cut. I don’t even go that far but buy the ready-baked end product. Just open the packet and eat.

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