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HOLIDAYS

Which Swiss cantons have a public holiday on May 1st?

Labour Day, celebrated on May 1st, is one of those public holidays which is celebrated in some Swiss cantons but not in others.

Which Swiss cantons have a public holiday on May 1st?
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Like most things in Switzerland, things are a little different from canton to canton.

While many internationals may have come from countries where nobody lifts a finger on Labour Day, in Switzerland the canton you live in will determine your May 1st fate. 

In total, 11 cantons mark May 1st with a holiday in 2020. Keep in mind however that in years where May 1st falls on a weekend, workers will not be given a day off in lieu. 

The cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Basel City, Basel Country, Fribourg, Jura, Neuchatel, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino and Zurich.

Read also: Revealed – the Swiss communes with the most public holidays

Employees in all other cantons do not have a public holiday on May 1st.

The May 1st public holiday is traditionally marked with a rally by unions, left-wing politicians and activists in Switzerland, with some of the largest taking place in Zurich.

This year however May 1st demonstrations have been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

Although unions and political parties have indicated they will not demonstrate – the Greens have said the day will be one of online protest – there have been reports in the Swiss media that extremist groups plan to rally despite the bans. 

Last year, around 13,000 people took part in Zurich, with the event described as largely peaceful. However, in past years, some far-left activists have staged protests outside the official celebrations. These unofficial actions have included clashes with police and incidents of property damage.

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