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Ascension Day

Ascension Day 2020 and 2021

Ascension Day is a public holiday in all 26 of Switzerland’s cantons. The day commemorates what the Bible records as the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven 40 days after his Resurrection.

202021 MayThuAscension Day National
202113 MayThuAscension Day National

Church services held on Ascension Day often involve the putting out of the “Easter candle,” torch-lit processions with flying banners and “church-blessed produce,” and readings of the Biblical Ascension accounts in Mathew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and Acts 1.

The Auffahrt procession in Beromunster is a major attraction on Ascension Day. The tradition dates from at least 1509, but it became a large, horse-focused celebration only in 1780. About 150 riders in traditional costumes mount horses and ride around before spectators. Then, a foot-parade with flags, music, singing, and more traditional costumes passes through the beautiful Swiss countryside.

Religious pilgrims join in the procession by the thousands, and there are large crowds watching their progress. Finally, the procession returns to Beromunster from the nearby hills and there is a big celebration with abundant, colourful decorations.

On Ascension Day, as on other Swiss holidays, many shops will be closed and businesses may keep shortened hours on the preceding Wednesday. The following Friday is also often taken off to create a four-day weekend, but many shops will not stay closed through the entire period.