Happy Christmas from snowy Switzerland

December 24, 2021, 1 Comment

So that was 2021 (well, almost). Not a year that many of us will remember fondly but I’ve had a look back at the last 12 months anyway. Here are the highlights of the year that was.

Covid made us live with regular shutdowns, tests, quarantine and passes. Shops and restaurants closed then opened, as did the borders. The fightback began in January with that vaccine (you know the one) and the largest immunisation campaign in Swiss history. But by December, the Swiss vaccination rate was still only 66%. And we all learned the Greek alphabet, with Delta appearing in the summer and Omicron making things difficult again this winter.

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It was the 50th anniversary of Swiss women’s right to vote at federal level. Still shocking that it took so long. Voters said Yes to a national Burka ban, a free trade deal with Indonesia, the anti-terrorism law, the Marriage for All law, a nursing care initiative and the Covid-19 law (twice). But they rejected both the e-ID law and CO2 law, plus initiatives on banning artificial pesticides, ensuring clean drinking water, taxing the 1% and a new way of electing federal judges. 

2021 wasn’t a bad year for Swiss sport. In football, the men’s national side beat world-champions France to get to the quarter finals of Euro2020. Sadly, then came the loss to Spain. In Tokyo, Switzerland won 13 Olympic medals across seven events, The Swiss did even better at the Paralympics: an impressive 14 medals. Meanwhile at Eurovision, the Swiss entry came 3rd – the best result in decades. 

The eighth series of Swiss banknotes stopped being legal tender. Any old notes you still have can be exchanged at the Swiss National Bank. Migros voted to start selling alcohol. The Swiss orange giant was founded in 1921 with an explicit ban on selling booze and tobacco products. How much does the average family house cost in Switzerland? The answer is 1.13 million francs. That’s up 10% on last year.

After seven tortuous years of negotiations, the Federal Council pulled the plug on talks with the EU aimed at agreeing a new framework deal. The small town of Moutier voted to switch cantons from Bern to Jura. Back in 1978 the result was No but now Moutier is moving. Legal cannabis! A parliamentary commission said that the production, trade and use of cannabis should no longer be illegal.

In January half the country saw such record snowfalls that even the Swiss couldn’t cope. Zurich transport shut down and villages in Graubünden were cut off. But a month later, the skies over Switzerland turned yellow and the skis were slicing through orange-dusted snow. The cause? Sahara dust. Then came the rain, rain and more rain. By mid-July, many rivers and lakes had burst their banks, but flood defences stopped it being even worse. 

And finally… For years, female Swiss soldiers have been issued with men’s underwear because that’s all there was but finally they will get their own. Cows aren’t quite sacred in Switzerland but cow bells are. Until now. A ruling in Canton Aargau meant that a local farmer must silence his cows’ bells between 10pm and 7am. The great crisp crisis of 2021! A dismal summer led to a poor potato harvest and a shortfall of 20,000 tonnes, which had to be imported.

Not forgetting that I had two new books published. Cartographica Helvetica is a wonderful colourful atlas of Switzerland for all ages (but mainly children 8+), and Swiss 52 is the ultimate souvernir photo book of the must-see places in Switzerland.

I originally wrote this review of the year for The Swiss Month, a free monthly round-up of Swiss news that I create for Bergli Books. If you want to read it regularly, you can sign up here. I also started a free monthly Swiss podcast, where I talk about everything from potatoes to politics.

That’s it for another year. Happy Christmas, and see you in 2022.

One Comment on "Happy Christmas from snowy Switzerland"

  1. James Turtle Saturday January 1st, 2022 at 12:45 PM · Reply

    Very interesting for folks living outside Switzerland (eg UK) with family in Switzerland. Shall hope to order both books and sign up to the podcast. Well done

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