If you are stuck in an office today, or toiling away somewhere under the bright August sun, you might have missed the fact that August 15th is a public holiday in many parts of Switzerland.
A total of 809 of Switzerland’s 2,255 communes are today celebrating the Catholic holiday of Assumption.
It’s just one of a number of paid public holidays in highly decentralized Switzerland that are celebrated in some places and not others, whether for religious, historical or other reasons.
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In fact, the number of fully national holidays in Switzerland is relatively small, including standards such as New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday and the August 1st National Day.
But beyond that the number of days off differs considerably. While the cantons of Zurich and Geneva each have nine public holidays in 2018 – low by European standards – that figure varies wildly across the country.
For example, people in Catholic cantons such as Ticino, Graubünden and Appenzell Innerrhodden fare better than their protestant counterparts.
A breakdown of paid days off by the news portal Watson shows who the bigger winners and losers are in the public holidays stakes.
At joint top of the tree is Bellinzona in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. The town with its iconic castle boasts 16 public holidays, or one more than the canton as a whole, with Bellinzona residents also having a paid holiday on Ash Wednesday.
Also enjoying a hefty 16 public holidays is the pilgrimage site of Einsiedeln which is only the place in Switzerland to celebrate the day of St Meinrad who was brutally murdered by two innkeepers.
Next on the list is the commune of Mesocco in the canton of Graubünden with 15 public holidays. This is followed by Andermatt in the canton of Uri (14 public holidays) where February 5th is a day off celebrating Saint Agatha of Sicily, martyred around the year 251 and the patron saint of wet nurses, bakers and, in Switzerland, fire services.
But the biggest losers in Switzerland when it comes to public holiday are the residents of Seebezirk in the canton of Fribourg. They have just five paid days off.
Similarly stingy (or hardworking, depending on your perspective) is Bucheggbeg in the canton of Solothurn with just six public holidays, or half as many as Kleinlützel in the same canton and only about an hour’s drive away.