Photo: Remy Steinegger/Ticino Tourism
The candidacy was officially lodged on Tuesday, though Unesco’s decision on whether to approve it won’t be taken until November 2019, the Swiss government said in a statement.
Mendrisio’s Easter processions, taking place on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, date back around 500 years and now attract thousands of spectators.
Thursday’s procession involves some 270 people and 50 horses in a portrayal of the Passion of Christ, while Good Friday’s procession depicts the burial of Christ.
During the processions the street lights are turned off, with the only light coming from traditional painted transparencies, some hundreds of years old, which are lit from behind and decorate the streets.
These transparencies were created using a technique specific to the 18th century, the preservation of which was a major factor in Switzerland’s bid for the event’s inclusion on the Unesco intangible heritage list, said the government.
The transparencies are hundreds of years old. Photo: Remy Steinegger/Ticino Tourism
Unesco’s intangible heritage list aims to raise awareness of the importance of living traditions and cultural festivities around the world.
Mendrisio’s Easter event is the fourth Swiss living tradition submitted by Switzerland to Unesco from a list of eight drawn up in 2014.
Unesco has already accepted two of Switzerland’s submissions – the Fête des Vignerons (winegrowers’ festival) in Vevey and Basel’s Fasnacht carnival – and will make a decision on the third, Switzerland’s avalanche risk management, this November.
Switzerland intends to submit four more items in the coming years: the alpine livestock season, yodelling, Swiss watchmaking and Swiss graphic and typographic design (including the Helvetica font).