Season‘s Greetings 2012 from PDF Tools - The traditional chronicles of Swiss Christmas, Part 7

The traditional chronicles of Swiss Christmas, part 7

Advent Window

Can you imagine opening up the doors to your home and inviting any stranger in town to drop by for a drink and something to eat? Your first reaction may be “No Way!”, but in Switzerland it is a time-honoured tradition during December, called the Advent Window.

In small towns all around the country, families can request a day in December when they want to host an Advent Window. One home is selected for every day from the 1st to the 24th, with the selection being made by a volunteer organizer. The list of which home has which date is then distributed to every house in town.

There are two parts to hosting an Advent Window. First of all, a window in your home that faces the street is decorated with a special theme or motive and lit up. The calendar day, e. g. 1, 2, 3 etc. must also be prominently displayed in the window. The window remains covered up and does not get displayed until your actual day arrives. So every day in December there is a new window in town to announce how quickly Christmas is coming.

Secondly, on your day you hold an open-house, usually in the evening when your lighted window is on display for the first time. Since everyone in town received the list of Advent Windows, they know where the open house is every evening and are welcome to stop by for a visit, even if they don’t know you.

Don’t be surprised if you find people from all professions, from farmers and hand workers to bankers and presidents of large companies mingling in a tightly crowded living room and enjoying a glass of hot spiced wine and Christmas cookies.

The Christmas spirit can really be felt when you host or visit an Advent Window. I’ve done it twice, and both were really memorable occasions. The mayor even stopped by, as well as the town minister, who believe it or not had to first call because he couldn’t find our street (in a town with a population of only 1600). It’s great that people take a break from the busiest time of the year to just drop by and chat for a while.

If you’re visiting Switzerland during December, ask your hosts (or us!) if there’s an Advent Window nearby. You’re welcome to walk in unannounced and enjoy a relaxing evening with people who won’t be strangers anymore by the time you leave.  

All of us at PDF Tools AG wish you, your family, and your friends a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to working together with you again in 2013.

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