Emmental Christmas market

November 25, 2017 — 2 comments

Emmental Christmas Market

The atmosphere is warm and welcoming as I enter the large meeting room under the attic of centuries old country inn Zum Roten Thurm. In focused attention, a handful of regional artisans are putting the finishing touches on their stands for the opening of the bi-annual Emmental Christmas market this evening. Artisans by passion, they all live and work in the gorgeous Emmental valley, many of them work their own farm.

There are no flashy Christmas lights, repetitive music or pomp of any kind here in this peaceful, unhurried atmosphere. It reflects so well the melodic, measured Bernese dialect spoken by these country folks and it instantly awakens a sense of Christmas within me.

Classic and modern calligraphy

I meet Schönschreiber (calligrapher) Fritz Tschanz, who some years ago turned his passion into a profession. Without haste but much joy he explains the development of writing from the early Middle Ages onward, influenced by architecture and other aspects of the time.

I’m charmed by a baptismal certificate, painted and folded into a small square letter, a custom that goes back to the Middle Ages, before modern-day envelopes were invented.

Personalized items are Fritz’ favorite projects and he is equally adept at illustrating his calligraphic text with anything the client desires. The family tree, a Christmas scene, or roses flower decorations as was requested by a grandfather for his new grandson’s baptismal record. What a meaningful and personal gift!

Scissor cutting & Emmental pottery

Moving from pen to scissors, I meet my friend Esther Gerber who created the logo of this website. One of Switzerland’s foremost paper scissor artists, Esther cuts unbelievably intricate designs which you can view right here.

Adjacent to Esther I’m greeted by Nadja Rüfenacht who raises two children and runs the family farm together with her husband. In her spare time, she paints pottery with the typical, age-old motifs of the Emmental: Bernese mountain dogs, cats at play, farm houses and landscape sceneries.

Do you remember Wisa Gloria toys?

There was not a  household in Switzerland that didn’t own one of the legendary red three-wheelers (it was my pride and joy as a 3-year old!), a wooden farm truck or a rocking animal for the youngsters under the roof. Manufactured by Wisa Gloria, the famous Swiss toy manufacturer in Lenzburg, they were popular until production stopped in the nineties. Hans Neuenschwander from Eggiwil now re-creates some of these fabulous vintage 50/6oies designs, popular as ever!

Wisa Gloria toys of a past era (Photos wikipedia commons)

Willow basket weaving

Sightless Urs Schwarz lives on his family’s farm nearby. Since learning the trade of basket weaving, Urs has developed quite a reputation across Switzerland for his beautiful willow baskets and other practical and decorative household items. Click here for a detailed article on this inspiring craftsman!

Leather engraving & wood working

Katrin Kobel obtained her diploma at renowned Brienz woodcarving school. Besides showcasing her magnificent woodcarvings, Karin demonstrates how she ‘carves’ leather, creating detailed Emmental motifs on belts, buckles, flasks and any object that can be made of or dressed in leather.

Farmer-turned-wood craftsman Roland Schenk is another artisan who turned his passion into his profession. His customers often bring him wood from their farm to have it worked into furniture, bowls, Christmas bells or other objets d’art. Roland is intimately familiar with every piece: he not only points out the type of wood from pear to Aesch-Eiche but recounts the place in nature where each piece comes from.

Returning home with a piece from nearly every artisan at this Emmental Christmas Market in my rucksack, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting and spending time with these friendly Bernese folks. All made from natural materials with hand and heart by talented local artisans, they reflect customs and traditions that have been passed on for generations in this hilly Emmental farm region. What a pleasure to enjoy the shopping experience as much as the gift items themselves!

Did you own a Wisa Gloria toy? Please leave a comment below and let me know! 🙂

About Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust


Switzerland travel enthusiast. Cat lover, bicyclist and classical music fan. I prefer walking over running and enjoy a good Swiss card game of Jass with friends.  More about Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust »

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Additional Information

Watch the short clip by Swiss videographer Peter Schurte (https://vimeo.com/peterschurte) to hear the lovely Emmental dialect and get a better sense of some of the portrayed artisans.

Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market
Emmental Christmas Market


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    • Silvia
      Silvia says:

      Hi Marietta
      Be sure to say hi to Esther and I know you will enjoy chatting with her, watching her at her craft and love her Emmental farmhouse! Let me know when you’ve been there!


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