Expat Files: Buying A Real Christmas Tree in Switzerland

christmas tree

So, for many expats and foreigners, the holidays can be the time when we get the most homesick. So, it’s amazing to keep alive traditions from your homeland. Mine? Going out and getting a real Christmas tree! This being my first Christmas living in Switzerland, I had no idea what to expect. Not speaking a lick of Swiss German, made it quite the daunting task.

In this process, I learned a few things:

  • The Swiss are very time-oriented. They won’t decorate, advertise, or start the ‘holiday season’ before November 23rd. Even the street decorations and lights have a designated date to go up.
  • Each canton has their own rules and regulations regarding the sale of trees. You most likely will have to go to a family owned or independent tree farm. Click for a list of tree farms in Switzerland, sorted by cantonIt’s very unlikely that large retailers will sell real trees as they don’t want to over-harvest the trees. It maintains the quality of life for the trees.
  • Depending on your tree stand, be sure to get a hole pre-drilled into your tree or have the sides cut down into a square block.
  • We picked out our tree, tagged it, and then the staff came to cut it down for us. It was delivered to our home in less than an hour!

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Now that you’ve gotten your tree home, make sure it stays fresh as long as possible by:

  • Making sure your tree is not in direct sunlight and placing away from fireplaces or heaters. Coolness will help keep trees and fresh greens from drying out too fast.
  • Putting your tree in its stand with water as quickly as you can after having a fresh cut on the trunk. If you can’t, then place the tree in a bucket of water as a temporary measure. It’s essential not to let the tree dry out from this point on. It’s best to check the water level in your stand 2 or 3 times for the first few days. Your tree may drink more than you expect, so be vigilant!
  • Trim tree of wild branches and brown patches. Try using the discarded branches for table decorating or make a wreath!

Now, it’s time to decorate your tree with lights, garland, and ornaments! Don’t forget the tree topper!

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