Happy Halloween! Staying in Switzerland during the holiday and you’re not sure how to spend it? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this guide to Halloween in Switzerland will tell you all you need to know about how the locals celebrate the popular holiday.
How is the holiday celebrated in Switzerland, which traditions are observed, and what are some other ways to have fun on Halloween in Switzerland – all of that, and more, are covered in this detailed guide.
Table of Contents
Origin of Halloween Traditions
It’s no secret that Halloween is an extremely popular holiday in the United States. Trick or treating, creating pumpkin lanterns, and dressing up in elaborate costumes are all different ways in which Americans celebrate Halloween. The holiday is widely celebrated in the country, and it’s equally popular among the younger and older generations.
But, the Americans didn’t invent Halloween – the spooky holiday has roots in Celtic traditions, and it was the Irish immigrants who started this trend in the United States. The Celts celebrated Samhain – a festival that happened on the last day of October and which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
It later become known as All Hallows’ Eve, and it is widely believed that many of the modern traditions tied to this holiday draw their roots from Samhain. The name Halloween wasn’t adopted until later.
Do the Swiss Celebrate Halloween?
Not really. The Swiss people aren’t that big on celebrating Halloween and they mostly see it as a cultural import. But Halloween is slowly becoming more and more popular throughout the country, especially among the younger population.
The kids are absolutely thrilled if they live in an area where trick or treating is common, while teenagers and young adults don’t miss out on the parties. A Halloween party is the most common way of celebrating the holiday in Switzerland. Many clubs and bars will throw costume parties for Halloween, and they’re particularly common in the bigger cities.
The holiday is also celebrated in communities where there are many foreign nationals, particularly those from the USA and Ireland.
Trick or Treating in Switzerland
Halloween is iconic for the tradition of trick or treating, in which kids dressed up in costumes go around the neighborhood to collect candy from their neighbors. The tradition is most common in the United States, but not as much outside the country.
Trick or treating in Switzerland is not very common, especially in the bigger cities. It might be a thing in some neighborhoods of smaller towns, where the communities are more closely-knit and the neighbors know each other well.
But trick or treating in apartment buildings in Zurich or Geneva is definitely not a thing. It’s simply an American tradition that hasn’t really become popular in Switzerland yet.
Costume Parties in Switzerland
Costume parties are the one Halloween tradition that has lived on in Switzerland, at least in the bigger cities. If you’re staying in a place like Zurich, Bern, or Geneva – a big city with lots of clubs and places to go out – you will be able to attend a costumed Halloween party if you want.
However, the party might not take place on October 31st, even if it’s a Halloween party. Most clubs organize these events on the weekend that’s closest to Halloween, so it could be a few days before or after the actual holiday.
Some places will offer a prize for the best costume, but that’s not the norm in all clubs. If you usually go all out on Halloween and you want to compete, it’s definitely a good idea to check whether the party you want to attend offers any prizes to the best-dressed customers.
Pumpkin Carving in Switzerland
Pumpkin carving is a thing in Switzerland, but it’s not very common. It’s not really a tradition for adults to come together and carve pumpkins, but some places will organize workshops for kids. It’s more of family activity, but you could always go to a farm and pick up a pumpkin if you’re really in the mood to make a Jack-o’-lantern.
Did you know that pumpkin lanterns have their own long-standing tradition in this European country, which doesn’t have much to do with Halloween? The pumpkin was thought to be just like a battery supplying energy – the energy of nature. People believed that this energy would make the good forces retreat back into the land by the time winter comes, and it was considered good luck to have a pumpkin lantern in your house.
How To Spend Halloween In Switzerland
Just because the Swiss don’t really celebrate the holiday in a traditional way doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in the country on Halloween. We are talking about the country that often hosts elaborate carnivals for which people dress up as cartoon characters and in supernatural-themed costumes, has legends about child-eating giants and evil spirits, and a tradition of creepy/spooky statues.
There are plenty of ways to get in the Halloween mood in Switzerland, even if it’s not carving pumpkins with new friends. Haunted houses and escape rooms are pretty popular in the country, and they’re especially great on Halloween.
You can also visit corn mazes – they’re surprisingly common in Switzerland and not even because of Halloween. There’s a giant maze in Neuchatel that’s particularly popular with families, and you can also find corn mazes in other parts of the country such as Lützelflüh, Langrickenbach, Muri, and others.
In case you’re staying in Zurich, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of other attractions that can get you in a spooky mood. It’s enough to visit one of the city’s many bizarre museums, where you can see human skulls, bones, and actual mummies.
You could also explore the sewers underneath the city or go on a night walking tour – it’s not exactly a Halloween-themed experience, but it can certainly be scary enough to get you in the right mood.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Halloween called in Switzerland?
It is also called Halloween in Switzerland. The holiday has been adopted from the United States and the name has remained the same.
Is Halloween big in Switzerland?
Halloween is becoming quite a big thing in Switzerland lately. It started out as quite a niche holiday celebrated by foreigners but has now seriously started to infiltrate Swiss culture. There are now fancy-dress parties held on Halloween and kids can be seen trick or treating on the streets.
Do they celebrate Halloween in Switzerland?
Yes, Halloween is certainly celebrated in Switzerland, especially in the last few years. It is not as big or as entrenched as local traditions, but it has become quite a big thing.