With over 200 different Swiss breads to choose from, you’ll find that many have connections to specific times of the year. These breads may be tied to a local celebration or to honor a patron saint, for example. To help you discover these annual Swiss baking traditions, here’s a calendar of 16 breads from Switzerland by month. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them any time of year.
1. January 6 – Dreikönigskuchen (DE) / Couronne des Rois (FR) / Corona dei re Magi (IT)
Made for Three Kings’ Day on January 6, this brioche-style loaf has one large ball of dough in the center, surrounded by 6 to 11 smaller dough balls. The dough is often studded with raisins and topped with coarse grains of sugar and sliced almonds. You’ll find a lucky charm hidden by the baker in one of the small buns surrounding the crown.
2. Mid-January – Meitli-Sonntag-Ring
A braided bread wreath appears at the end of an annual 3-day celebration that commemorates a historic battle in which a group of women helped earn the victory. Known as Meitli-Sonntag, it starts on the Thursday evening before the second Sunday in January in the canton of Aargau.
3. January 24 – Pain Vaudois à la Croix
To celebrate the canton of Vaud gaining independence in 1798, why not bake its official cantonal bread? It has a cross pressed into the center of the dough before it’s baked.
February / March
4. February 5 – Agathabrötli
Named for a patron saint, Agathabrötli is considered a lucky charm in the Sense-Oberland region in the canton of Fribourg. Since the 1930s, bakers have made these little breads in a pretzel shape. They receive a blessing from a local priest, and people keep one in their homes throughout the year to prevent fires and illness.
In the city of Basel, bakers will make these breads during the annual Fasnacht (carnival) celebration. These three days of festivities take place the first Monday after Ash Wednesday. Sprinkled with caraway seeds, Fastenwähen also have four distinct holes cut into the dough.
6. March 1 – Bütschella
This sweet, yeasted bread roll made with raisins and lemon zest from the Swiss canton of Graubünden is known as a Bütschella. During the Chalandamarz celebration on March 1, and particularly in St. Moritz, a local bakery will pass out these sweetened rolls to the children who participate in the annual procession to chase away winter and usher in the spring season. You may have heard of this celebration in the popular Swiss children’s book, A Bell for Ursli.
March / April
7. March 1 – Taillaule Neuchâteloise
The Taillaule Neuchâteloise is another brioche-style loaf with raisins. You’ll find it in the canton of Neuchâtel. Thick slices of this bread are popular along the route for the Marche du Premier Mars to celebrate the canton’s independence day. This unique bread has slash marks cut into its surface with scissors before baking.
8. Easter – Pain de Pâques
In Neuchâtel, the dough for making this Easter bread (Pain de Pâques) is nearly identical, if not exactly the same, as the dough for a loaf of Zopf /Tresse. This oval shaped bread gets a slice down across its center before baking.
In the canton of Ticino, and especially in Val Bavona, you’ll find Fiàscia. People serve these chestnut flour breads at the feast following the Gannariente Procession in May, when religious pilgrims travel on foot from Cavergno to San Carlo. You will also find them in Ticino’s Valle Maggia.
10. June 23 – Pain Jurassien
Another bread for celebrating a cantonal independence day. The Pain Jurassien is the cantonal bread for Switzerland’s newest canton, the Jura. June 23rd represents the day in 1978 when the majority of its seven districts voted to become independent from the canton of Bern.
The Schlangenbrot (snake bread) is the only bread on this list that does not have an official day, but it works especially well during the summer months. It’s called “snake bread” because you coil the bread dough around a stick and bake it over a fire.
12. August 1 – 1.-August-Weggen (DE) / Petits Pains du 1er Août (FR) / Panino del 1° Agosto (IT)
Celebrate Swiss National Day on August 1st with a special, buttery bread. It has a cross cut into its surface before baking that represents the image on Switzerland’s red and white flag. The dough for this bread, which comes in small and large sizes, resembles the dough used to make Zopf (or in fact may be the same dough, depending on the baker).
Cuchaule is a saffron-flavored bread that’s part of La Bénichon. Considered one of Switzerland’s living traditions, La Bénichon celebrates the end of the summer harvest season in the canton of Fribourg. Family and friends gather around the table for this special feast, with specific dishes that make up the time-honored menu. Don’t forget to slather this bread with butter and moutarde de Bénichon, a gently sweet and spicy spread.
14. Taillé de Goumoëns
This yeasted cake comes from the village of Goumoëns in the canton of Vaud. A cousin of the Gâteau du Vully, the Taillé de Goumoëns also has little indentations pressed into the dough that trap a sweet cream topping. In October, the village celebrates the Fête du Taillé, where you can sample its namesake cake.
This savory yeasted cake comes from the Jura. You will find it throughout the year, but especially during the annual feast of St. Martin in November. The traditional menu includes many different types of pork dishes, and most certainly, a slice of Totché. I like to add pureed potatoes to the dough, to give it a somewhat lighter and softer texture.
16. December 6 – Grittibänz (DE) / Bonhomme de Pâte (FR) / Ometto di Pasta (IT)
Grittibänz are little bread men made at Christmastime, and particularly for St. Nicholas Day on December 6. Very loosely translated, Grittibänz apparently means something like “old frail man walking with his legs spread apart.” They come in all shapes and sizes, but usually have raisins for eyes and are sprinkled with coarse grains of sugar.
Swiss Bread Cookbook
Want more Swiss bread recipes and stories? Check out my first cookbook, Swiss Bread, published in 2020. Available in English, French and German, it contains 42 Swiss breads, including nearly all of the breads in this article. Available in the US via Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble and more.
Updated: August 16, 2023