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Christmas Eve: Nine out of ten households decorate tree

Holly or Ivy may be acceptable, but what the Swiss really want for Christmas is a pine tree illuminated with real candles, rather than electric bulbs. Nine out of ten households in this country of 7 million people have a decorated Christmas tree.

Holly or Ivy may be acceptable, but what the Swiss really want for Christmas is a pine tree illuminated with real candles, rather than electric bulbs. Nine out of ten households in this country of 7 million people have a decorated Christmas tree.

Most Swiss celebrate on Christmas Eve. The erstwhile poor country now invests large sums in gourmet food and wine and champagne for the festivities, which often also include singing carols around a well-lit tree.

Shops have recorded booming pre-Christmas spending as consumer confidence is clearly up. The Christmas tree market alone is worth SFr40 million ($27 million).

But Switzerland’s not very fertile soil means many trees have to be imported. In fact, 70 percent of trees come from abroad, mostly from Denmark, and unlike most agricultural produce, there are no customs barriers or duties to pay.

The most favoured trees are those from Scandinavia since those trees tend to shed fewer needles in overheated rooms.

Nowadays, many Swiss farmers are not only growing their own trees but are also trying to corner part of the tree market with roadside stands that sell other Christmas products.

From staff member Peter Haller.

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