Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Christmas through the ages A festive journey back in time

Colourful Christmas trees, dressed up shop windows, illuminated streets, carols and the smell of cookies are traditions that encapsulate the spirit of the festive season for many of us. It is hard to imagine now, but what we regard as the festival of family and love hasn’t always been celebrated in this way.

The Christmas we celebrate is in fact an eclectic mix of traditions and customs of Germanic and Christian origin which have evolved over many years. Many of them, like the Christmas tree, have only been around since the beginning of the 19th Century. (The tree is thought to have been introduced by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and proved so popular that the tradition spread around the world.)

Switzerland shares many of its Christmas traditions with its Central European neighbours. Church services, presents, baking cookies and decorating the tree all play a central part in the celebrations. On Christmas Eve, there is a festive family meal and many people visit a midnight church service, although the Christian origins of the festival are no longer important to every family.

In our series #swisshistorypics, we take a look back in time with pictures of Christmas celebration from the last 80 years.

Adapted from the German by Laura Németh,

Neuer Inhalt

Horizontal Line

subscription form

Form for signing up for free newsletter.

Sign up for our free newsletters and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.

Click here to see more newsletters