December begins. 

I’ve decided that I’m in training. Training for the vagaries of everyday life here. There’s a certain spryness that is necessary here. At any moment you may need to break into a sprint to catch the bus or train. Or, heaven forbid, the long slow run-of-shame back to the Bahnhof from the train yard. Without proper training, injuries happen. 

Often the sprint happens as a result of getting distracted by something beautiful, marvel-worthy or just plain odd. 

Like the other day we arrived at the bus terminal to discover that one of the local phone companies had set up free fondue stands for everyone. 

Hello!

Clearly you have to stop to enjoy some bread dipped in delicious hot, melted cheese. Train schedule be damned!

One of those moments when we knew “yup, we’re in Switzerland!”

Plus recently I had to stop to take photos of another pause-worthy advertising campaign. Running alongside the “have-sex-with-many-partners” campaign, I am happy to report, is a counter campaign highlighting the joys of contracting an STI. 

With messages such as “Herpes is not a Greek God” and “Gonorrhea is not a flower”, the message is getting out there.

Glad I can calm any fears out there of our children facing potentially risky advertising. 

Or can I?

The strong adoption of smoking as a lifestyle choice is so successful here because of their effective campaigning towards children. 

Remember these!? Bubble gum cigarettes, complete with a puff of “smoke” when you blow into them. I had the full scorn of two women at the bus stop who were judging me harshly for handing out cigarettes to my kids. Hey, it’s not my country whose marketing smoking to children. Shame on YOU!

Everywhere else we turn there is something fabulously Christmassy popping up where it wasn’t before. Like literally entire log cabins appearing where there wasn’t one the day before. 

Kind of like Stampede. Terribly unhealthy snacks at astoundingly inflated prices.
Back for a little more Gluwein?

Winterthur hosts a Christmas market all month long. Every day. It is Christmas heaven. Around 50 booths selling the full gamut of wares from cheese & salami, churros (a little taste of Mexico!) hand crafted knickknacks and jewelry. Plus lots of opportunities for Gluwein. I could remain slightly drunk everyday. Hey, it kind of fits with the image of my smoking 8&10yr olds. Why not?

This one is huge. Literally a pop-up mountainside Swiss chalet. Even the trees were brought in!

It’s the pop-up skating rinks that really amaze me. This one is being constructed for a weekend skate. 

Do we have these in Canada? Or would that be redundant given our abundance of frozen lakes & ponds? This one is right outside the mall by the train station but it lacks the disco ball one of the others has.

I can’t wrap my head around the cost of all this merriment. Not to mention the mystery of where does it all come from? The villages of Christmas markets, popping up in every Swiss town across the country. Where does it all come from?  And where does it live the other 11 months of the year? The scale of it all really doesn’t fit within the tiny confines of this country. 

All in all the effort to bring festivity here is amazing and greatly appreciated. Even our house is starting to feel festive with the arrival of gifts from family back home. (Thank you Janes & Les!!)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Complete with the collection of advent calendars, we’re right into the spirit!

Thank you Grandma, Les & Titi!

And for the final and definitive sign that it is, indeed, Christmas, the red cup. 

Heaven in a cup. A wee sample of the Toffee Nut Latte handed out at the Bahnhof the other morning. My first Starbucks sip since leaving Canada. It warmed my heart. I smiled a little brighter at every stranger I passed along the street. They all seemed especially generous in their returned smiles. Everyone is in the holiday spirit! Or no, turns out they weren’t so much smiling at me as they were laughing at me. I arrived home to discover a dollop of whip cream on the end of my nose. True story. More proof that I will never be truly Swiss.

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