Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Festivals in Switzerland

Switzerland is a country of fete days and festivals. Yet, with the exception of August 1, Anniversary of the Founding of the Swiss Confederation, the country's one nationally celebrated day, other holidays are almost entirely local in character. Just as each canton has its own beautiful traditional costumes which have been passed down from father to son and from mother to daughter for many generations, so each canton possesses its own unique festivals.

The Confederation of Switzerland consists of twenty-two cantons, three of which--Appenzell, Basel and Unterwalden--are subdivided into half-cantons. Since each canton is like a small sovereign state, it is not surprising that two cantons seldom celebrate the same holiday in the same way, or even on the same date.

Religion plays an added part in creating festival differences. An estimated fifty-seven percent of the population is Protestant, forty-one percent Catholic and two percent of other faiths. Festival observances naturally vary considerably according to religious beliefs. The geographical location of the cantons is also important, since festivals have a distinct German, Austrian, Italian, or French flavor, according to the nationality of the closest neighboring country.

Switzerland has four national languages--German, French, Italian and Romansch--not to mention countless dialects. Dialects, like festival customs, vary widely from valley to valley and canton to canton. Because of these language differences the names of the festivals that are described are given in the language or dialect of the area in which they are celebrated.

Find out more about Festivals in Switzerland in following posts:
  1. Festivals in Switzerland PART-1 
  2. Festivals in Switzerland PART-2