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Industrially manufactured tirggel as sold by Swiss retailer Migros in 2008
Place of originSwitzerland
Region or stateZürich
Main ingredientsFlour, honey, sugar, water

Tirggel are traditional Christmas biscuits from Zürich, Switzerland.[1] Made from flour and honey, they are thin, hard, and sweet.


Tirggel are first recorded in Zürich as Dirgel in 1461.[2] They have been manufactured there ever since with elaborately carved wooden moulds depicting Biblical or regional themes.[3] More recently, the wooden moulds—four of which are exhibited in the Swiss National Museum—have been replaced by polycarbonate casts, which are easier to handle.[3]


Tirggel dough is composed of flour, 29 percent honey,[1] some sugar and water;[4] although one source reports that it is or was made without sugar, which is taken to be an indication of the tirggel's pre-Christian origins.[5]

The dough is pressed very thinly into elaborately carved moulds of varying shapes and sizes. The biscuits are baked in a high-temperature oven at 400 °C (752 °F) for only 90 seconds[6] and require good timing to get right.[1]


Because tirggel are hard and dry, they are best when sucked on for a while, which allows the honey flavour to become more pronounced.[1]

Tirggel are also very durable. Swiss writer Emanuel Stickelberger reported in 1939 that "the tirggel has the admirable quality of not becoming stale, and the harder it gets, the more enjoyable is it to nibble on."[7] On account of their elaborate ornamentation, traditionally manufactured tirggel are often not eaten at all for months or years and are kept as decorations instead.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Züri Tirggel" (in German). SF Tagesschau. 6 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-07.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ For details see Schweizerisches Idiotikon, vol. XIII 1567 ff., article Tirggel.
  3. ^ a b Pfändler, Stefanie (3 December 2008). "Wenn es duftet, ist wieder Tirggelzeit" (PDF) (in German). Tages-Anzeiger. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  4. ^ Baker, Margaret (1992). Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites. Osprey Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 0747801754.
  5. ^ Wernecke, Herbert Henry (1959). Christmas Customs Around the World. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 65. ISBN 0664242588.
  6. ^ "Tirggel-Herstellung" (in German). Honegger Confiserie Wald. Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  7. ^ Stickelberger, Emanuel (1939). Heisst ein Haus zum Schweizerdegen: Tausend Jahre deutschschweizerischen Geisteslebens (in German). II. O. Walter a.-g. p. 688.
  8. ^ Spicer, Dorothy Gladys (1958). Festivals of Western Europe. Forgotten Books. p. 218. ISBN 1605068012.

Further reading[edit]

Tirggel often depict scenes from the history of Zürich such as the Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn—Switzerland's first railway—shown here.
  • Ott, Ernst (1967). "Der Tirggel". Schweizer Volkskunde. Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde. 57 (1–6). ISSN 0048-9522. OCLC 1765168.
  • Schuh, Gotthard (1941). Tirggel. Ein altes Weihnachtsgebäck. Mit einer Kulturhistorischen Einführung von Edwin Arnet. Amstutz und Herdeg. OCLC 3561897.
  • Schweizerisches Idiotikon, Band XIII, Spalten 1567–1573, Artikel Tirggel (digitalisate).
  • Zogg, Annemarie (1992). Züri-tirggel: Bräuche, Bilder, Herstellung. Zürcher Kantonalbank. OCLC 32194377.

External links[edit]