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Where in Switzerland do workers get a day off on Friday?

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Where in Switzerland do workers get a day off on Friday?
Half of Switzerland's cantons mark Immaculate Conception. Image by Carlos Andrés Ruiz Palacio from Pixabay.

You may know that December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and that it's a public holiday in half of the Swiss cantons.

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This year, December 8th falls on a Friday, meaning that workers in 13 (predominantly Catholic) Swiss cantons and municipalities will get to enjoy a work-free day.

What exactly is being celebrated?

This Catholic feast day marks the Immaculate Conception, which many may imagine was Mary's conception of Jesus.

In fact, it actually marks the conception of Mary herself. Her mother Saint Anne became pregnant in the usual, biological way, Catholics believe, but the conception was 'immaculate' because God intervened, absolving Mary of original sin.

According to Catholic dogma, all humans are born with original sin, which is why babies are baptized shortly after birth to make them "worthy" of entry to Heaven. But Mary was never tainted by original sin, kept "immaculate" from the moment of her conception because God knew she would one day give birth to Jesus Christ.

While the event has been marked since as early is the seventh century, December 8th was first officially declared a holy day by the Vatican in 1854 by Pope Pius IX.

READ MORE: Public holidays: What days will you get off work in Switzerland in 2024?

How is it marked?

For some people, this date means a day off work (when the holiday falls on a weekday) and getting together for a family lunch.

However, if the holiday falls on a weekend, as for instance Easter Sunday does, you do not get an extra weekday holiday in lieu – though some churches have moved their service to the following day in the past whenever the holiday would coincide with a Sunday of Advent.

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Switzerland has many churches and chapels dedicated to Mary and you can find them in different parts of the country, such as the St. Marien (Basel), Marienkirche (Bern) and the Ticino-based pilgrimage church Madonna del Sasso.

Which cantons give workers the day off?

If you happen to work in one of the following cantons or municipalities, then you’re in luck as you will not be expected to show up for work on December 8th: Appenzell Innerrhoden, Fribourg, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Ticino, Uri, Valais, and Zug.

The public holiday is also celebrated in nearly all of Solothurn with the exception of the Bucheggberg District, one of the ten districts within the canton.

In Aargau, the public holiday is only marked in Laufenburg, Muri, and parts of Rheinfelden (Hellikon, Mumpf, Obermumpf, Schupfart, Stein, Wegstetten).

Immaculate Conception is also a public holiday in parts of Graubünden though not canton-wide.

Does this mean everything will be closed?

Nor necessarily. Shops and museums in municipalities have the option to obtain a Sunday permit if they wish to remain open on December 8th and given that we are approaching the Christmas period, it can be assumed that many will choose to do so. It is best to check out your local canton's website for further information on what shops will be open on the Friday.

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