Many foreigners, especially North Americans, may be surprised that Halloween is not celebrated very often in Switzerland.

© Yang Gueisik |

Long before Halloween existed, the Gaelic festival known as Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and winter’s descent into darkness. Some believed it was when the souls of the dead roamed the earth.

The trick-or-treating custom is believed to have originated from an ancient practice in which people disguised themselves as spirits and demanded rewards in exchange for good luck. Impersonating a deceased soul was believed to offer protection from them.

One version of history suggests that the Roman Catholic holy day of All Saints, or All Hallows, was shifted to November 1st in an attempt to replace the pagan festival of Samhain. habits are hard to get rid of. Samhain continued on his October 31st as a separate celebration, hiding a new name, Halloween.

As the Gaels migrated around the world, Halloween traveled with them. And, much like Christmas, once it arrived in North America it was commercialized and pushed farther afield. It’s Pumpkin Orange, not Father’s Christmas Red.

Switzerland put up a good fight, but like many places, it seems to be slowly succumbing to the commercial sirens of Halloween.

For most Swiss it is an unwelcome cultural import. For others, usually candy-hungry children, it’s a chance to enjoy some face paint and pumpkins and shout out to friends and neighbors for the best in refined sugar.

research on Le Matin A few years old website offers insight into how the Swiss view Halloween. Seventy-two percent thought it was a business run by a retailer with no place in Switzerland, and only 21% planned to dress up: people suffering from phobias planned to dress up as clowns. would be happy to know that only he was 5%. It’s no laughing matter.

Halloween activities in Switzerland are more micro than macro. Smaller towns where neighbors are more likely to know each other tend to have the most enthusiastic trick-or-treating. . In Swiss cities, Halloween tends to consist of Halloween-themed parties for youngsters and Jacko his lantern workshops for younger children.

At the same time there are several events. For example, the town of Meudon in the canton of Vaud hosts Halloween ghost tours.

here are some more Vaud (whole page):

Les Diablerets
Les Moss

Zurich We have a long list of Halloween themed parties: click here.

Geneva Very few Halloween treats. One website, Geneva Tourism, has several listings.

for Basel click here. If this disappoints you, don’t despair. Instead, get your outfit ready for the Fasnacht Festival in Switzerland in March.

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