Geneva, Switzerland – It seems only fitting that writing a blog about living in Geneva, I should talk about Geneva’s own public holiday: Jeûne genevois.
The website of the Republic and Canton of Geneva says the holiday is celebrated the Thursday following the first Sunday of September.
According to Robert Hensler, Geneva canton chancellor, the Jeûne genevois began in 1567 in remembrance of the repression against Protestants in Lyons, France.
However, many Genevans seemed to have forgotten this historical fact and currently relate it to the Saint Batholomew’s Day massacre when several thousand Huguenots (Protestant Reformed Church of France, also known as French Calvinists) were killed.
The slaughter took place from the evening of 23 August to the morning of 24 August 1572, a date which corresponded to the wedding night of the King of Navarre.
Geneva, having a large Protestant population, called for an additional fast day in remembrance of the massacre 3 September that same year, which became a symbol of Protestantism in the canton.
The Wikipedia page about the fast cites Hensler’s official explanation of the holiday: “By 1640, through sway of the reformed cantons, the fast had become yearly and was carried on even after the Genevan revolution of 1792. Jeûne genevois later became a patriotic holiday, symbolizing both Geneva’s proud identity and its Protestantism.”
Most of the rest of Switzerland takes a holiday the Monday following the third Sunday in September, the Jeûne fédérale.
Share some plum pie
Plum pies or tarts used to be the only meal eaten by 16 Century Genevans. However, these days, when most Geneva residents do not fast, it has become the de rigueur dessert. Have you bought yours?