Season‘s Greetings 2014 from PDF Tools - The traditional chronicles of Swiss Christmas, Part 9

The traditional chronicles of Swiss Christmas , part 9

The "Grittibänz"

Although the “Grittibänz” or “Grättimaa” may be a tongue twister, this sweet bread is usually a treat for the tongue. This Christmas tradition emerged in the Middle Ages. The little figures then spread through Switzerland as time passed, picking up a range of names in the process.

It made its first appearance in writing as the “Chriddibänz” 150 years ago. “Bänz” is a nickname for Benedict and was also used at that time as a synonym for “man”. “Gritti” has its roots in the verb “gritte”, which is related to posture. “Grittibänz” thus stands for “man with spread legs”.

The decorations and design of the figures vary from region to region. Depending on the region, the Grittibänz might sport a shoulder belt, a turban, a pipe or a bishop’s staff. And it is said that in earlier times the sweet tidbit was a woman, hence the saying by the famous Zurich-based theological family Bullinger in the mid-16th century: “First Felix eats the biscuit’s horn, and he saves the maid until next morn.”

Depending on the region, the shaped bread was originally made of gingerbread or plain bread dough. The use of sweetened yeast dough later became common practice. If, during the lead up to Christmas, you look in bakers’ windows, you’ll stare straight into the little black raisin eyes of these bread men and women. The figures are sometimes created very simply, sometimes with loving detail. Whatever their final form, they always put a twinkle in children’s eyes and are familiar companions during the exciting buildup to Christmas.

So, do you feel like baking a “Grittibänz” now? Good! There is a recipe waiting for you on the right side.

We wish you and your loved ones a wonderful and, above all, very sweet Christmas!

Your team

For four “Bänzen”

  • 500g flour
  • 60g butter (melted)
  • 15g yeast
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 egg (decoration)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar 

Raisins (or almonds) for eyes, buttons, etc.
You can add decorating sugar if you wish.


Add flour, salt and sugar to a bowl. Add the melted butter (not too warm). Gently knead together. Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk and slowly add it to the dough. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and pliable. Leave to rise at room temperature for at least one hour. Otherwise leave to rise overnight in a cool place.


After the dough has risen, divide into four equal portions and form them into ovals. Use a knife to cut arms and legs into the ovals. Form the heads and use the raisins or almonds for the eyes and mouths. Give your imagination free reign when adding other decorations. Leave to rest, then brush with egg yolk and put them in the oven.


Approximately 30 minutes in the lower half of the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. If the Grittibänz sounds hollow when you tap its back, it’s ready to eat.