There are many national holidays celebrated in Switzerland. These include Berchtold's Day, St Stephen's Day, Christmas, and the Swiss National Day. There are many traditions ranging from food to sports eaten or done on these days, which make the Swiss culture quite unique.
Berchtold’s Day is called Berchtoldstag, and it falls on 2nd January as a remembrance of Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen who founded Berne. It is a family-oriented celebration that is only celebrated in some of the cantons. According to legend, Duke Berchtold V killed a bear, however some say he actually killed a squirrel.
The reason why people say that Duke Berchtold V killed a squirrel instead of a bear is because of the food. Nuts are gathered in early autumn for the annual food festival, which is a feast of nuts. Indeed, the Swiss area bit nutty as celebrators will play nut-related games or sports, eat food containing nuts, sing, and do folk dancing. A sport that is also played on this day is 'hock', which may look simple but you need a lot of skill, patience, and concentration.
Swiss National Day
Swiss National Day is called Nationalfeiertag and it falls on 1st August. Back in year 1921, it was declared as Switzerland’s birthday. Town people get involves in paper lantern parades, bonfires, fireworks displays, and Swiss flags hanging. On this day, a type of baked bread known as ‘Augustweggen’ is eaten. There are also sessions of barbecues and family gatherings, just like the American Independence Day celebration. A traditional way of celebrating is to have breakfast at the farm and have a good time experiencing farm works such as milking cow, make cheese, make bread, jam making, and other activities. It is truly a fun family day.
Christmas is called Weihnachten and it falls on 25th December. Unlike in America where Santa Claus delivers presents, an angel called Christkindli delivers them. Christkindli wears a white robe and a jeweled crown, however he veils his face. Children know when Christkindli has arrived, as silver bells tinkle to announce his arrival. When he arrives, candles are lit on the tree and he gives out the presents. These presents are kept in a basket.
Food features after midnight mass on Christmas. They eat ringli which are large donuts and drink hot chocolate.
Stephen’s Day is called Stephanstag and it falls on 26th December. In other parts of the world, this is called Boxing Day. However, unlike the rest of the world, some companies do not declare St Stephen's Day as a public holiday so expatriates have to find out their company policy on this holiday. On this day, people eat St Stephen's Day Pie, which consists of ham and turkey. It is similar to cottage pie with a beef filling.
Here are the public holidays in Switzerland. There are a whopping 54 of them, however not all of these holidays are celebrated in all of the cantons. In addition, there are several bank holidays which are not included in this list.