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All Saints' Day in Switzerland

Every year on November 1 Christians in Switzerland honor all saints, particularly those who do not have their own special feast day. All Saints is an important observation for Catholics, so November 1 is a public holiday in those Swiss cantons where the Catholic influence is largest.

Is All Saints' Day a Public Holiday?

All Saints' Day is a public holiday in 15 cantons, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

A graveyard in Switzerland.
A graveyard in Switzerland.
©iStockphoto.com/Loren File

What Do People Do?

Although All Saints is officially dedicated to saints, it is also an occasion to honor the dead. For that reason, candles are lit in cemetaries across Switzerland. Some Christians also attend a church service.

Public Life

All Saints is a public holiday or silent day in the following cantons:

  • Appenzell Innerrhoden
  • Glarus
  • Jura
  • Lucerne
  • Nidwalden
  • Obwalden
  • St. Gallen
  • Schwyz
  • Ticino
  • Uri
  • Valais
  • Zug

It is also a public holiday in some municipalities in the following cantons:

  • Aargau
  • Fribourg
  • Schaffhausen

In the listed areas offices, banks, schools and many businesses are closed on November 1. Public transport may run on a reduced schedule.

Background

According to some sources, the idea for All Saints' Day goes back to the fourth century when the Greek Christians kept a festival on the first Sunday after Pentecost (in late May or early June) in honor of all martyrs and saints. Other sources say that a commemoration of “All Martyrs” began to be celebrated as early as 270 CE but no specific month or date is recorded. Pope Gregory IV made All Saints' Day an authorized holiday in 837 CE. It is speculated that the chosen date for the event, November 1, may have been an attempt to supplant the pagan Festival of the Dead (also known as Samhain or the feast of Saman, lord of death).

Symbols

Symbols commonly associated with All Saints’ Day are:

  • A sheaf of wheat.
  • Rayed Manus Dei (hand of God).
  • The crown.
  • Symbols (including images) of individual saints.

The liturgical color is white on All Saints' Day.

About All Saints' Day in other countries

Read more about All Saints' Day.

All Saints' Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2011TueNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2012ThuNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2013FriNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2014SatNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2015SunNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2016TueNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2017WedNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2018ThuNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2019FriNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons
2020SunNov 1All Saints' DayCommon local holidays15 cantons

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