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Understanding Swiss Public Holidays

So this Thursday is a public holiday in Lucerne and if your children go to a local school you’ll find that Friday is a day off too. But if your spouse works in Zürich, he won’t be getting any days off. How is this possible? Welcome to the Swiss system where each canton can make its own decisions as to public holidays.

Here is a summary to help you understand:

There only is one official national public holiday and that is August 1.

Each canton is then entitled to add up to 9 other public holiday dates. Whereas every one agrees that Christmas, Easter and January 1st should be holidays, the Catholic cantons will also celebrate other Christian festivals, this Thursday is Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi), last Monday way Pfingstmontag (Whit Monday) and before that was Auffahrt (Ascencion). Of course there is also Maria Himmelfart (August 15), Allerheilige (All Saints day) on November 1st and Maria Empfägnis (Announciation) on December 8 to look forward too.

In general if a holiday falls on a Thursday then in schools they take the Friday off too.

To make matters even more confusing you cannot forget the city saints who will also be a reason for getting a day off work/school, in Luzern it’s St Leodegard on October 2.

Okay, so for the non-Catholic cantons what gets celebrated? Why Labour Day on May 1st of course! and in Zürich you can’t forget Sechseläuten ( April 24) and Knabenschiessen (September 11).

So in other words, each canton and town has its own celebration so you better study your kids’ school schedule really closely and check your company’s public holiday policy if you want to know when to plan your next long weekend!

This website should help shed some light on holidays too.

charlie.hartmann@livinginluzern.swiss

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.

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