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PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Revealed: the Swiss communes with the most public holidays

With around a third of Swiss communes having a day off today, August 15th, for Assumption, here is an overview of where in Switzerland you should live if you love public holidays.

Revealed: the Swiss communes with the most public holidays
Life in the slow lane. File photo: Depositphotos

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.

Read also: The pros and cons of working in Switzerland

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.

Read also: Switzerland's richest places by purchasing power

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.

Read also: Eight great summer swimming spots in Switzerland

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SWITZERLAND

When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2021?

Switzerland has very few national public holidays, but there are many that are celebrated on a regional or cantonal level. Here’s a list of what is commemorated where and when.

When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2021?
National Day on August 1st is among there biggest public holidays in Switzerland. Photo by AFP
Public holidays are when most businesses, schools, and other institutions are closed.

As with everything in Switzerland, things differ widely from canton to canton.

There are only four nationally and the cantons with the fewest paid public holidays have only five in total, up to 16 regionally. Switzerland has 26 cantons. 

When are they?

January 1st (New Year’s Day), Ascension Day (May 13th in 2021), August 1st (National Day), December 25th (Christmas Day).

Technically speaking, Easter Sunday is also a national holiday, however it always falls on a Sunday. 

What else do you need to know? 

If the holiday falls on a weekend, you do not get an extra weekday holiday in lieu.

For the purposes of this article the abbreviations for the cantons are as follows:

Aargau (AG), Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI), Appenzel Ausserhoden (AR), Bern (BE), Basel-Country (BL), Basel-City (BS), Fribourg (FR), Geneva (GE), Glarus (GL), Graubünden (GR), Jura (JU), Lucern (LU), Neuchâtel (NE), Nidwalden, (NW), Obwalden (OW) Schwyz (SZ),  Schaffhausen (SH), Solothurn (SO), St. Gallen (SG), Ticino (TI), Thurgau (TG), Uri (UR), Valais (VS), Vaud (VD), Zug (ZG), Zurich (ZH)

January:

1st: New Year’s Day, National

2nd: Saint Berchtold’s Day , AG, BE, FR, GL, JU, LU, OW, SH, TG, VD

6th: Epiphany, GR, LU, SZ, TI, UR

March:

1st: Republic Day,    NE

19th: St Joseph’s Day,   GR, LU, NW, SZ, TI, UR, VS

April:

2nd: Good Friday,   National except TI and VS

4th:  Easter Sunday,   National

5th: Easter Monday,   National except NE, SO, VS, ZG

READ MORE: What will Christmas be like in Switzerland this year? 

May:

1st: Labour Day,   BL, BS, JU, LU, NE, SH, SO, TG, TI, ZH

13th: Ascension Day,  National

24th: Whit Monday,  National except NE, SO, VS, ZG

June:

3rd: Corpus Christi,  National except AR, BL, BS, BE, GE, GL, NE, SH, SG, TG, VD, ZH

23rd:  Independence of Jura,   JU

29th:  St Peter and St Paul,    GR, TI

August:

1st: National Day,    National

15th,  Assumption Day,     AG, AI, FR, JU, LU, NW, OW, SO, SZ, TI, UR, VS, ZG

September:

9th:  Jeûne genevois,   GE

20th:  Day after the Federal Fast,   VD

22nd:  St Mauritius,  AI

25th:  Brother Klaus Festival,   OW

November:

1st:    All Saints’ Day,    National except AR, BL, BS, BE, GE, GR, NE, SH, TG, VD, ZH

December:

8th:  Immaculate Conception,   AG, AI, FR, GR, LU, NW, OW, SZ, TI, UR, VS, ZG

24th: Christmas Eve,  GL

25th:  Christmas Day,   National

31st:  New Year’s Eve,   GL

31st: Restoration Day, GE

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