Swiss Guard

Switzerland Traditions

What is the Basel Carnival?

You surely know Carnival or Mardi Gras or Mardi Gras. Carnival is said in the south-west of Germany and that’s what it is called in Switzerland. However, Carnival in Basel only begins on the Monday after Ash Wednesday. And she always starts with the Morgestraich and that is very early in the morning at 4 o’clock.

The Basel Carnival then lasts 72 hours and does not end until Thursday at 4 a.m. Those who actively participate wear what is known as a “larva”, a mask under which the face cannot be seen.

The Basel Carnival is also famous for its pipes and drums. At Morgestraich, for example, groups of musicians wander through the darkened city center, making whistling and drumming tones. The result is a tremendous concert of whistles that can be heard across the city.

The Swiss Carnival is celebrated differently than, for example, the Carnival in Cologne. Here you are mostly funny and happy, while the Basler Fasnacht is more of a calm and contemplative atmosphere – despite the loud music. You can find out what it looks like and what it sounds like in this little video:

The Basel Carnival is much quieter than in Germany. The pipes are very typical.

The Basel autumn fair

The autumn fair in Basel – also called d`Herbschtmäss – is great fun, especially for children. It doesn’t take place in spring, but in autumn. There are many stalls, carousels, a ferris wheel and there are many places to celebrate in the whole city.

The Mäss, as the people of Basel also say, is a very old tradition that dates back to the times of the Middle Ages. The people of Basel have been able to hold a fair since the end of the 15th century and that is still the autumn fair today.


Jassen is a card game and is popular in Switzerland, but also in Liechtenstein, Austria, southern Germany and Alsace. In Switzerland it’s a kind of national game and many children learn to play at a very early age. It is played with a French, an Austrian or a German-Swiss hand, depending on the region. You declare a certain color to be the trump and the under (also called pawn) is the highest trump. The aim of the game is to score as many card points as possible.

What is swimming in the Rhine?

Basically people like to swim in the Rhine. While one can swim in the summer without problems in the Rhine, there is once a year, a very official Rheinschwimmen. The Swiss Lifesaving Society organizes this swimming.

The dates are different, the swimming usually takes place sometime in August. The swimmers pack all their things in a bathing bag called a changing bag, so you can take all your things with you and go on a swimming trip on the Rhine. The changing bag is usually made of colored material so that you can easily recognize the swimmers.

What actually is cow wrestling?

The Swiss are actually a very peaceful people. There have been no wars in Switzerland for a long time. In return, their cows are all the more combative. In contrast to the Spanish bullfight, it is not the bulls that fight each other here, but the cows.

A special breed of cattle that is bred in the Valais fights for rank in the herd. And so here Kuhhorn meets Kuhhorn while the audience is watching. The final match takes place in Aproz in Valais and is a national event in Switzerland. “The Swiss are crazy,” Asterix would probably say.

The traditional Sechseläuten

The Sechseläuten – the Sächsilüüte – always takes place in Zurich in mid-April. Here the winter is set on fire and this in the form of a snowman, which is filled with firecrackers. It is called Böögg here. This is also a very old Swiss tradition.

Children’s parade at Sechseläuten

The children have fun too, because there is a separate children’s parade at Sechseläuten, which always takes place on the Sunday before Sechseläuten. Those who want to take part must, however, wear traditional costume or uniform and should be at least five and no more than 15 years old.

What is the Swiss Guard?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Swiss Guard? This is an armed group that is supposed to protect the Vatican. And that comes from a country that remained neutral during the wars and whose last armed conflict dates back to 1848. But as is so often the case, a quick look at history helps.

According to directoryaah, the founding of the Swiss Guard in 1506 comes at a time when it came many families in Switzerland very bad. So they sent their sons as mercenaries – that is, paid soldiers – to other countries to fight there. So the Swiss rarely fought as a nation, but they sent parts of their citizens to war.

The Swiss did their job well, so that their good reputation reached the Pope’s ears. The then Pope Julius II had the idea of ​​”ordering” Swiss people to guard him. Since Switzerland was neutral in most of the clashes, he didn’t have to worry that the guards would suddenly stab him in the back.

And this Swiss guard still exists today. To become a Swiss guardsman, you have to be Catholic, definitely male, not yet 30 years old and not married for the time being.

Swiss Guard