Swiss Watching trivia, No 15: Religion

August 15, 2010, 1 Comment

Today is a Catholic holiday in Switzerland. Or at least it would be if it wasn’t a Sunday, which is by definition a holy-day. Protestant cantons, however, never get to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, no matter what day it falls on, because it’s not a holiday for them. That’s right, Swiss holidays are not all the same nationwide: Catholic and Protestant cantons can have different ones. This day-off divide is a relic of the religious rift that split Switzerland for over 300 years, with the last conflict as recent as 1847. Today the division is as peaceful as Switzerland. Officially, the population is 41.8% Catholic and 35.3% Protestant (not forgetting 4.3% Muslim), though there’s no even distribution. There are French-speaking Protestants and German-speaking Catholics, and vice versa; nor is there an east-west or nouth-south divide. It’s a mess, but an organised one. As for today’s holiday, before I moved to Switzerland I had no idea what that was. The assumption in question is the act of Mary going to heaven. Oh, that assumption.

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