Living in Switzerland certainly comes with its share of culture shock for any Jamaican. When it rolls around to the winter season those differences are even more obvious (which Jamaican you know love the cold?) One thing though that cheers up the drab wintry weather are the Christmas celebrations. Somehow you’d think that Christmas in Switzerland would be worlds apart from one in Jamaica, right? Well, you’d be fascinated to know that both Jamaica and Switzerland do share some similar Christmas traditions. Here are 4 of the most notable:

4 Similar Jamaican and Swiss Christmas Traditions via

Christmas Markets:

One of the most exciting parts of growing up as a Jamaican kid at Christmas time was getting to go to the Grand Market in town. The bountiful displays of clothes, toys, candy, food and other goods by vendors is something that would have any child or adult feel excited about the Christmas season. To my inner Jamaican kid’s delight, I learned that the Swiss also practice a similar tradition. Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) is a Swiss Christmas tradition that begins 4 weeks before the actual Christmas day. Vendors set up shop in the city’s center to display goods of varying sorts ranging from handmade wooden toys and candles to jewelry. I feel as giddy as a school kid walking through these rows of stalls viewing all the beautiful items on sale. Oh, and let’s not forget the variety of food stalls that offer delicious Swiss Christmas food!

Swiss Christmas Market
Weihnachtsmarkt Copyright Sergey Galyonkin

Christmas Drinks: Glühwein & Sorrel

Is Christmas even happening in Jamaica if there’s no sorrel?


Roselle or as Jamaicans call it “Sorrel” is the main ingredient of Jamaica’s popular Christmas drink

Sorrel to Jamaicans is like Glühwein is to the Swiss. Christmas isn’t happening if you’re not outside with a group of friends enjoying this warm alcoholic beverage! What is Glühwein? It’s a special spiced wine that is warmed and typically served with a slice of orange inside. For a Jamaican, what better way to warm up in the cold sub temperatures? What’s even stranger is Glühwein’s uncanny flavor similarity to Jamaican Christmas fruit cake. Apparently, the wine uses similar spices as the popular Jamaican cake such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

mulled wine
Warm pot of Glühwein

Gifting Baked Goods

Jamaican kitchens at Christmas time are overwhelmed with the wonderful scent of fruit cake. This delicious pastry is often given to neighbors, friends and family as gifts.

Fruit cake
Jamaican Christmas cake

However, Jamaicans aren’t the only ones baking up a Christmas storm in the kitchen. Each year the Swiss family bakes batches upon batches of varying types of Christmas cookies. These cookies are given to family and friends as a friendly gesture in the Christmas season. Admit it, there’s nothing sweeter than a pastry filled Christmas!

Christmas cookies
Swiss Traditional Christmas cookie baking

Christmas Mass

As most of us know, Jamaica is a god-fearing nation. I mean, how else would you justify having the most churches per square mile in the world? So, it’s without question that for most Jamaicans, attending church mass on Christmas Eve is essential for ringing in Christ’s birthday. Switzerland too, is deeply rooted in Christian faith and as such they too celebrate Christmas by attending church on Christmas day.

** This post has been featured in the Jamaican Christmas E-Magazine

Does your country practice any of these traditions? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Similar Jamaican and Swiss Christmas Traditions via