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Berchtold's Day

Berchtold’s Day 2022, 2023 and 2024

Berchtold’s Day falls on 2 January each year. Berchtold’s Day is a tradition dating at least to the 14th Century A.D. and is in the historical record not only in parts of Switzerland but also in Liechtenstein and Alsace.

YearDateDayHolidayCantons
20222 JanSunBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20232 JanMonBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20242 JanTueBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
Please scroll down to end of page for previous years' dates.

Despite the “Saint” in the name of the holiday, history does not inform us of any Saint Berchtold. The word may have been added simply out of habit, seeing as so many other holidays are dedicated to the remembrance of saints and because the meaning of “berchtold” became obscure.

There are many theories about how Berchtold’s Day got started. Some say “berchtold” is an old Alemmanic word meaning “to walk about begging for food,” implying that the drear, hungry winter months inspired the name.

Others say the day commemorates the founding of Bern by Duke Berchtold V in the 12th Century. It is said that Bern is named after the bear he killed on a hunting trip. And yet others tell us that the name comes from “Perchta,” a feminine, half human half beast creature that folklore declares “the guardian of the animals.”

However, it is likely that “berchtold” is an old High-German equivalent of “Epiphany.” The day was likely the local name for the Roman Catholic feast of Epiphany, which occurred on “the 12th Day of Christmas” to commemorate when the Three Magi were thought to have visited the baby Jesus. This theory accounts for why the celebration of Berchtold’s Day waned following the Swiss Reformation, for Protestants disfavoured celebrating Epiphany. And the tweaking of the date to 2 January seems to have been a way of compensating for the loss of a holiday.

Previous Years

YearDateDayHolidayCantons
20212 JanSatBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20202 JanThuBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20192 JanWedBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20182 JanTueBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD
20172 JanMonBerchtold's Day AG, BE, FR, GL, JU,
LU, OW, SH, TG &
VD