First Spring Colours


Finally spring has arrived. The birds are tweeting. Spring flowers are blooming such a crocus, primulas, daffodils, tulips, snowbells…. Colors are back in the private little gardens and public squares. But the forests still look bare without green leaves.

Temperatures are rising and just now the time was set back by one hour (back to summer time). The switch takes place on the fourth Sunday of March at 3 am. For people living in the lower areas they can soon change the winter tires and get the summer tires back on.

Right through April there can be huge weather changes. During the night it is still cold. In one day there could even be some snow flakes and a few hours later warm and sunny weather (1°-25°C). So don’t put your warm clothing out of reach yet.

First Spring Colours 2016-03-28T21:29:01+00:00

Happy Easter


Easter is a happy holiday. For weeks before this public holiday the shops already start selling chocolate Easter rabbits. They come in all sorts of shapes and flavours. You get the normal milk chocolate as well as black and white chocolate Easter rabbits. Some kids keep their chocolate rabbits for months resisting all temptations. Those sweet beasts are still quite fine after many months….

There is an Easter tradition that the families celebrate together with this kids. After a generous brunch the parents will hide some of the sweet goodies outside in the garden or around the home and then let the excited kids search and discover them.

On Easter Sunday people also like to eat hard boiled eggs with colored shells. Some of those eggs are turned into quite some artwork.

Easter is a long weekend off work. People are off work from Good Friday until Easter Monday. Some also use the opportunity for a brief holiday abroad.

Easter is early this year (already on Sunday, March 27, 2016). In the Western church (in contrast with the Eastern church) the date is set on the first Sunday following the full moon after March 20. Easter is in correlation with the Jewish Passover festival during which Christ was crucified and then three days later rose from the dead.

In many churches there are special services remembering Christ’s death on the cross (Good Friday) and his resurrection (Easter). Often these services are accompanied by great classical or sacred music.

Happy Easter 2016-03-21T12:02:08+00:00

The Canton of Zürich


On the car registration plates as always the flag of the Canton is on the right (blue and white) and the Swiss flag on the left.

This canton is not one of the biggest but the most populated. It covers basically the city of Zürich with agglomeration. It’s population reaches 1.4 Mio.

It is located in the eastern part of Switzerland. Folks from that Canton are probably the most sophisticated in terms of fashion and trends. The people from Zürich speak Swiss German with their particular Zürich dialect. The standing joke is, that they are fast moving and rapid speakers, especially in comparison with the slow folks from the canton of Berne. In the canton of Berne people think that those from Zürich are somewhat big mouthed.

The canton is seat to many international companies of Swiss origin (ABB, Credit Suisse, Helsana, Migros, Sulzer, Swiss Life, UBS etc) or foreign origin (Bayer, BMW, Esso, GE, GM, Microsoft, Sony etc). This canton is the economic power house of Switzerland.

The university of Zürich and the ETH rank among the world’s top places of education.

The lake of Zürich and a few smaller lakes are part of the Canton, adding to its beauty.

The Canton of Zürich 2016-03-14T17:42:40+00:00

Official Languages in Switzerland


All products (such as the ready-made-sauce in the picture) are labelled in the three main languages: German, French and Italian. Official publications are issued in three or four languages. Switzerland doesn’t have one common language that all have to speak.

The country has four official languages that are spoken in specific geographical areas. Swiss German is spoken by almost 2/3 of the Swiss. In 17 of the 26 Cantons Swiss German is the main language. In three cantons (Berne, Fribourg and the Wallis) both languages, Swiss German and French, are spoken, depending on the area.

Swiss German is spoken with different dialects with really quite some variations. The Swiss German speaking kids have to study high German and learn to express themselves in this language. However talking to a German they are often reluctant to talk in proper high German. Maybe because the Germans speak a very polished German while the Swiss tend to have a very broad Swiss German accent which immediately gives them away as Swiss German speakers.

23% of the Swiss, called “les Romands” speak French as their mother tongue. French is spoken in the Western part of Switzerland (bordering France). The French they speak also has some smaller variations. The French of the Canton of Neuchâtel is the most beautiful French spoken in our country.

About 6% speak Italian. This area is in the South of the country, bordering Italy. Their Italian is also particular to this area.

A very small pocket (only 0.6%) speaks Rätoromanisch living in the South-East (or the Canton Graubünden). They are usually really bilingual, speaking Rätoromanisch and Swiss German as their mother tongues.

In all schools the kids study their own language plus one other official language. However many of the kids hardly get a good handle on the 2nd language. Many speak some basic French or German. English is often more attractive, which is their 3rd language.

Official Languages in Switzerland 2016-03-07T13:25:24+00:00