The 5 Swiss Traditions Lifetime Gets Right In Merry Swissmas

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Lifetime's new cozy Christmas flick, "Merry Swissmas," premiering tonight at 8/7c , tells the story of Alex (Jodie Sweetin), a busy Chicago architect who's grown distant from her friends and family due to a demanding schedule and the pain of bad break-up. Over the holiday season, Alex decides to fly to Switzerland to reconnect with the people and traditions she loves most; her mother is opening a brand new hotel in picturesque Swiss village (hence, "Swissmas"). But there's a catch. Alex's ex-best friend, Beth, and her actual ex, Jesse, are also invited to the hotel's grand opening. Remember that particularly-painful break-up? Beth and Jesse are now dating — ouch.

Along the way, Alex meets kind-hearted inn manager and single father, Noah (Tim Rozon), who teachers her all about Swiss Christmas traditions. As she explores this new connection, Alex must decide whether to forgive Beth and rekindle their friendship or (yet again) distance herself from the people she loves most.

Jodie Sweetin of "Full House" and Tim Rozon of "Schitt's Creek" fame bring the magic of a romantic Swiss-mas to life — but are all the traditions featured in the movie actually authentic to Swiss culture? And does Santa's helper, Schmutzli, really chase children with a stick?

Christmas Markets

As love-interest Noah explains to Alex in the movie, much of Swiss Christmas tradition involves celebrating as a community. Christmas markets — or, Weihnachtsmärkte — pop up all around Switzerland during the holiday season, selling everything from roasted chestnuts to handmade gifts (via Expatica). Lifetime's "Merry Swissmas" is spot-on when it comes to it's outdoor Weihnachtsmärkt — as Noah clarifies, Chicago's famous Christmas market was actually inspired by the European tradition ("they take their cues from us," he says). At the Weihnachtsmärkt, you can expect twinkling lights, hot drinks, and hand-dipped candles — the perfect setting for a classic Christmas romance.

Best of all, the movie's market features lots and lots of snow — all real, as it happens. "It was February, and we were north of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains," Jodie Sweetin told Channel Guide magazine. Though the film wasn't actually shot in Switzerland, "It was absolutely stunningly beautiful [in Montreal]. All that snow was 100% real."

Advent Windows

In "Merry Swissmas" Alex and Noah check out Adventsfenster, or advent windows. As Alex notes in the movie, it's like a life-sized advent calendar. So, how does it work? Every year, local home owners, businesses, or even schools are chosen to represent the 24 December nights leading up to Christmas (via z'nuni Swiss Stories). Each person decorates a glass window pane with drawings, paper cut outs, and their assigned date, closing their shutters until it's their night to "shine," literally. As accurately represented in "Merry Swissmas," advent windows are truly a communal tradition. Locals gather every night of December, waiting for the unveiling of each new window.

Spicy Christmas Wine

"Merry Swissmas" is packed with hot drinks. One of these beverages is Swiss "glühwein," or spicy Christmas wine. In the movie, Beth overs a glass of glühwein as a peace offering to Alex — it's a deep red decorated with citrus slices. According to The Kitchn, this German mulled wine is actually relatively simple to recreate at home — enjoy it as you catch up on your favorite Lifetime specials! All you'll need is a pot to heat your chosen red wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and an orange. Alternatively, you could just make a trip to a Swiss Weihnachtsmärkt and wait for your ex-best-friend to hand you a glass.

In the movie, Noah also treats Alex to moscht, Swiss fermented cider. If you're looking for beverage inspo this holiday season, look no further than "Merry Swissmas."

Samichlaus and Schmutzli

Traditionally, Samichlaus (a Swiss version of Santa Claus) and his side-kick, Schmutzli, make their first appearance on December 6th, or "St. Nicholas Day," per Rick Steves' Europe. Though Samichlaus and Schmutzli are delayed a week in "Merry Swissmas," the pair does arrive with a donkey and traditional Christmas gift baskets in tow.

In a scene also true to actual Swiss Christmas festivities, Schmutzli — who traditionally administers punishment to misbehaved children — chases young villagers with his broomstick. Not to worry, it's all in good fun. Schmutzli doesn't actually whack anyone (anymore).

Decorating on Christmas Eve

Some of us swiftly replace Halloween pumpkins with brightly-lit Christmas trees. However, as "Merry Swissmas" explains, Swiss tradition demands that Christmas trees remain un-decorated until Christmas Eve — or, "Heiliger Abend," in German (via Rick Steves' Europe). Though not featured in the movie, some people still choose to use actual candles to decorate their trees; not to worry, the Swiss are practiced in the art of avoiding disastrous Christmas fires.

Though trees aren't officially lit until Heiliger Abend, "Merry Swissmas" also explains the tradition of the advent wreath, fir branches formed into a circular shape and decorated with four candles, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas, per Expatica. In the movie, Alex and her loved ones congregate around their own wreath, lighting candles in anticipation of the 25th.

Speaking of counting down the days until Christmas, "Merry Swissmas" is only the first in a series of new Lifetime Christmas movies this season (via The Pioneer Woman). Make sure to check out all that the channel has to offer, from Switzerland romances to the North Pole rendezvous.