Easter in the Alps
You know how Wal-Mart is a typical American store, and you can find one almost everywhere in the country? Switzerland also has such a store — about a tenth of the size, of course — and it’s called Migros (pronounced: mee-grow).
Like Wal-Mart, Migros is known for offering good prices for a wide range of products. However, they go about offering these prices in a different way.
I came across this interesting fact after I asked my host family why Migros always uses a hideous bright green color with a white watermark for all of its packaging. Almost everything you can buy at Migros has this: butter, yogurt, pencils, tea, and everything one could possibly need for Easter. I even have a friend who has a laptop which has the entire top just plastered with this same bright green. It’s not even a sticker that you can take off; it was just made that way.
I can understand why people would shop there for food and small things, but I couldn’t understand why someone would buy a computer with this huge logo on it. My host family told me that there were bicycles with the Migros paint on them and even a Migros car.
Sure it’s like free advertising for the store, but I wondered why they couldn’t at least make it look prettier. According to my host family, Migros chose the green color and simple design because it was the cheapest when it came to packaging all the products. Then I wondered why people would want to flaunt stuff from a store that is known to be cheap, but apparently they’re just proud to do so.
I try to imagine seeing an American tapping away on a laptop with a huge Wal-Mart logo on the back and taking notes with a bright blue and yellow pencil, but I just can’t.
One would think that after I’ve lived in Switzerland for over seven months, I would cease to be surprised by little things, but that is not the case.
For a while I had noticed a jar of some dark substance in the cabinet that holds jelly, honey, Nutella, and anything similar that can be eaten on bread. I assumed it was jelly until one day it was put on the table for supper, and I read the label.
It was molasses.
My host family and I had another laugh as I explained that I’m used to using molasses for baking, but they eat it on bread with butter. They made me try it, and I have to agree that anything that sweet on bread is absolutely amazing.
Another thing that surprised me was how we celebrated Easter. Easter has always been an important holiday for me, but I never really did anything traditional except gather candy-filled plastic eggs when I was little. Of course, my family made it a little more traditional this year than they normally do because I was here, and I never experienced a Swiss Easter before.
They have the same typical Easter ideas like Easter bunnies and Easter eggs and so on. I think one of the biggest differences was how much chocolate there was. I believe that almost every holiday can be connected to chocolate in this country, but when I say that there was chocolate, I mean that there were chocolate eggs everywhere, and my host parents gave me and each host sibling our own chocolate Easter bunny.
Instead of having an Easter Egg Hunt, each family member had a basket of goodies that we had to find in the house. They weren’t hard to find because, unlike eggs, they were relatively big and contained our Easter bunnies, chocolate, colored hard-boiled eggs, and even little gifts.
We had made the hard-boiled eggs on Thursday evening before Good Friday. We had about 40 eggs to decorate, and the entire family chipped in. I expected to paint them, but once more I was surprised.
First, we had to cut out little shapes out of paper and dip them in water so that they would stick to the egg. After we finished our little designs, we had to cut a piece out of a pair of tights and wrap it tightly around the egg to hold the paper in place. Then the eggs were placed in a pot of onion shells and water to be stained. When they were finished, the paper was taken off, and the eggs were polished so that they almost looked like wood. Then we ate all of them over that Easter weekend.
Other than these differences, my Easter was relatively similar to what I have been accustomed to growing up.
My life is taking on a normal spin, and what astonishes me is that I can now have animated conversations in German with my friends, and I can actually retain some information that we learn in school. It really is amazing how much my German ability has grown during my time here.
Despite some late March snow, spring is finally coming and my year in Switzerland is slowly nearing its close. However, there is still so much more for me to do and experience before it’s really over.
Larissa Miller is a junior at Warwick High School. She is spending a full year studying abroad in the small town of Vordemwald, Switzerland. She will be living in all ways as a normal Swiss teenager and has agreed to share her adventures with readers of the Lititz Record Express.