Switzerland – Most residents of Switzerland are enjoying a Thursday off; for many this is the beginning of a four-day weekend courtesy of an ancient Christian tradition: Ascension Day.
In Christian faith, Ascension Day, or the Feast of the Ascension, celebrates the day when the resurrected Jesus went up to heaven, 40 days after Easter Sunday.
Ascension is a recognized Federal holiday in Switzerland and one of several with religious connotations.
What is particular about this holiday is that it is recognized by both Catholic Church and Protestant Reformed Church cantons.
The most colorful celebration takes place in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
It is known as the Auffahrtsumritt in German and Cavalcade de l’Ascension in French, a procession on foot and horse through the streets of Beromünster in canton Lucerne.
The tradition dates to 1509 (or 1402 according to other accounts), when, according to its organizers, people used to pray for the good health of the crops, for happiness and the welfare of the family and home.
In 1780 the number of participants, mostly on horses, increased, and it became a popular celebration in the country.
Happy day off and Happy Father’s Day (today is not only Ascension Day in Germany but also Father’s Day.)