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All Saints Day

All Saints Day 2017 and 2018

Each year, on November 1st, regardless of what day of the week it falls on, All Saints Day is celebrated in Switzerland.

YearDateDayHolidayCantons
20171 NovWedAll Saints' DayNational except AR, BL, BS,
BE, GE, GR, NE, SH,
TG, VD & ZH
20181 NovThuAll Saints' DayNational except AR, BL, BS,
BE, GE, GR, NE, SH,
TG, VD & ZH
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This is a time to honour all saints, especially those who don’t yet have their own special day. This represents an important observation for Catholics, which is why it is a public holiday in Swiss cantons where the Catholic influence is present. Since this is considered a public holiday, many offices, retail shops, and schools remain closed.

History

This is a holiday celebrated by the Catholic Church, as well as by some Protestant Churches. It always falls on the first of November, regardless of the denomination. The day is to recognise and celebrate saints that have graced the world and is a day to honour loved ones who have passed on. While it began in Rome during the 600s, today, it is celebrated in countries all over the world in addition to Switzerland. Some people celebrate this day by lighting candles, attending religious ceremonies, and by decorating graves with flowers.

Interesting Facts

Some of the most interesting facts about All Saints Day in Switzerland include:

  • All Saints Day is also referred to as the Feast of Saints, Hallomas, Solemnity of All Saints, and All Hallows.
  • White is the liturgical colour of the day.
  • The very first All Saints Day was celebrated in 609, in Rome under Pope Boniface IV.
  • All Saints Day was made an official holiday in 837 by Pope Gregory IV.Some feasts for All Saints Day include cabbage and boiled potatoes, soul cakes, and fruit with Irish bread.

Some of the symbols associated with All Saints Day in Switzerland include symbols of individual saints, the crown, the hand of God or rayed Manus Dei, and a sheaf of wheat.

The Swiss Celebration of All Saints Day

Each canton determines what closes during All Saints Day. There are some that have many businesses closed for the holiday and observance of saints and those who have passed away. Many people spend time in local cemeteries putting flowers on graves, or in church, lighting candles for those who have passed. Many of the Catholic churches have festivals or other activities going on to help commemorate the saints of the past.

The cantons that observe All Saints Day as a public holiday include Zug, Valais, Uri, Ticino, Schwyz, St. Gallen, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Lucerne, Jura, Glarus, and Appenzell Innerrhoden. These are the areas where the Catholic influence is greatest. There are a few other areas where it is observed, as well, including Schaffhausen, Graubunden, Fribourg, and Aargau. In these areas, all the locations listed above close, and most sources of public transportation run on a reduced schedule.

If you are in Switzerland during this celebration, you are likely going to see a minimal amount of activity among residents of the cantons that observe this as a public holiday. It is also best to hold off on any plans for this day since most areas are going to remain closed.