When you go to Switzerland, you ought to know what some of their public holidays are first. You never know when you might find yourself in the middle of a celebration. Or if you're newly employed here, you might be confused as to why everyone took the day off apart from you. Knowing what the public holidays are in the country you're in helps you in more ways than one. However, here in Switzerland, there's really only a handful of national public holidays. All the others are Cantonal. So regardless of where you are in the country, here are the important holidays to remember.
Berchtold's Day (January 2)
Following New Year's Day, January 1, Berchtoldstag Day is an Alemannic that's celebrated in various Cantons throughout Switzerland. Although it used to be that only the German region of the country observed this holiday, it has since been celebrated in other French and Italian Cantons over the years. Although the exact meaning of this holiday continues to vary from Canton to Canton, it's widely accepted that this day commemorates the Blessed Berchtold of Engelberg Abbey. This legendary Swiss monk was celebrated for his pious way of life and eye-opening sermons, becoming a known figure in Catholicism in Switzerland.
Easter Monday (Every March or April)
Just like in the UK
, the Netherlands
, and many other European countries, the Swiss also celebrate Easter Monday. Held right after Easter Sunday, it extends Easter Weekend and gives everyone one more day to spend time with friends and family. However, while it's widely accepted as a national holiday, the Canton of Uri does not observe it as a public holiday. Hence, while the rest of the country enjoys the day off, in this particular part of Switzerland, life goes on normally after Easter Sunday. Still, the religious significance of the holiday is not lost on the residents of this Canton and many still hear mass or pray during Easter Monday.
Swiss National Day (August 1)
Just like the 4th of July in the US
and Bastille Day in France
, Switzerland celebrates the Swiss National Holiday to commemorate the founding of the Swiss Confederacy. Interestingly enough, the holiday was first observed in 1891. But it wasn't until 1899 that it became an annual holiday. After that, around 94 years later in 1994, the Swiss government officially proclaimed August 1 as the 'Swiss National Holiday.' On this day, people put on paper lantern parades, hang, raise, or wave up Swiss flags, and light up bonfires and fireworks at night. It's the most celebratory day in the country every year!
St. Stephen's Day (December 26)
Every December, Christmas Day isn't the only religious holiday that practically all the Cantons in Switzerland celebrate. Most of them also celebrate St. Stephen's Day every December 26 too. Only five Cantons—Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Geneva—don't observe it. But since 21 out of 26 Cantons do, St. Stephen's Day is widely considered a national religious public holiday. Similar to the other European countries that also celebrate this holiday, the Roman Catholics in Switzerland commemorate St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, on this day. However, most also simply observe it as an extension of the Christmas holiday too.
Source:Flickr.com/ Martin Bingisser
If you ever have plans to visit or even move to Switzerland, you ought to know its national holidays first. Especially since there's only a handful that most Cantons celebrate! On these days, the country takes the day off and holds various celebrations!
Celebrate these national Swiss holidays your own way, be it outside with friends or in your own luxury home