Who’s the mummy?

December 9, 2009, 5 Comments

Bern is rather like Elizabethan England: an island of Protestants surrounded by Catholics. It doesn’t make much difference these days – the Swiss stopped arguing, and killing each other, over the Eucharist many moons ago. Not forgetting that the debate is all about another religion at the moment. But there’s one aspect of Swiss life where religion still plays a part. Holidays.

Yesterday, December 8th, it was all about the Immaculate Conception. In my Anglican ignorance, I thought that meant something to do with Mary getting pregnant. Admittedly, it would have meant a miraculous pregnancy of only 17 days, barely enough time to have morning sickness let alone get to Bethlehem on a donkey. But, hey, when God’s the daddy, anything is possible! However, I’ve discovered that it’s not Jesus who was being conceived but Mary herself. This is a holiday to celebrate Anna’s impending motherhood.

I’m still not too sure what made it an immaculate conception. Maybe it was just very tidy, with no spillage, or perhaps Anna was Swiss – everything’s immaculate here so I’m sure the conceptions are too. All I do know is that when the Catholics have a holiday, they all flood to the nearest Protestant canton (in this case, Bern) for one simple reason. Unlike in Britain, holidays here mean the shops shut, so today, with the Catholic cantons closed, all those good Catholics go shopping.

Just as well Anna got pregnant two weeks before Christmas. If she’d managed it in February, it’d be such a waste of a day off. Then again, on average Catholic cantons have four more holidays a year, or even more if it’s Ticino. It’s all work and no play for the Protestants. Almost reason enough to move to a neighbouring canton, just for the extra time off. I wonder if that would mean taking what the Pope says seriously? Or at least pretending to?

5 Comments on "Who’s the mummy?"

  1. Gabriela Thursday December 10th, 2009 at 08:17 PM · Reply

    You actually don’t have to move to a catholic canton, you have to work in one. If you live in a catholic canton, but work in a protestant one you will not have more days off…. it’s all about where you work…

  2. swisswatching Friday December 11th, 2009 at 07:14 AM · Reply

    Exactly right, but such a very Swiss concept. Live in one place, work in another and get different holidays, even though those two places may only be 20 minutes apart by train. It’s the same with the tax system, but I’ll save that for another time.

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