* Switzerland Swiss boys clothes activities

Swiss Boys' Clothes: Activities

Figure 1.--This is a festival being celebrated in the town of Escharlens. We believe it is a Catholic festival. The children are part of the town choir.

We are just begiining to acquire information and images of Switzerland in build an archives to develop an activities section. We now have an extensive school section. A HBC reader has forwarded us some images of a choir in Escharlens. Fuestivals and holidays are an interesting subject. We do have some information on Swiss choirs. Religion is an important topic. We also have some information on Swiss school clothing. We do not yet know much about work. We also have some limited information on Swiss youth groups. Hopefully our Swiss readers will provide some more information.


HBC currently has little information on Swiss choirs. The choral traditions of neighboring France and Germany have been influential in Switzerland following the linguistic and cultural patterns. The sailor suit appears to be used for choir costumes in the German areas of Switzerland. Some of the Swiss choirs, reflecting the relatively stability of Switzerland and relative success in avoiding major European wars. Some information is available on individual Swiss choirs.


We do not know much about festivals in Switzerland, but they were an important aspect of national life. This was especially the case before World War II when there were relatively limited recreational opportunities and religion was still relatively important. We believe that every village had their own destinctive festivals as well as some that were celebrated in common on a national basis. An important part of most village festivals was a parade or procession through the middle of the village. The image here shows a festival being celebrated in the town of Escharlens (figure 1). Unforunately we do not know much about the festival. The boys involved are from the town choir.


The Swiss celebrate many holidays as is commoin in other countries negimming with New Years. This is addition to the mnany loval villages celebrated throughout thr country. There are both reogious and national hoildays. The religious hilidays are the sanme as in other Christian nations. The most important secukar joliday is Switzerland's national day (August 1). This is when the three original cantons of Schwytz, Uri and Unterwald founded back the country (1291). This day is celebrated throughout the country down to the smallest village with bonfires burning even up some mountains and hundreds of speeches held by local politicians with nobody listening to and thousands of sausages and other treats prepared on BBQs by the local firebrigade volunteers. For children there is no specific clothing althiugh some children ear folk outfuts. The younger ones walking proudly around with 'lampions' (paper globe with a candle burning inside). On top of the national day each of the 23 cantons have their specific celebration day at various dates and originating from quite many different roots. Easter and Christmas are celebrated througout Switzerland although there are differences on how they are celebrated as a result the country's varying ethnic and religious composition. The most important holiday for children is of course Christmas which is esoecially nimprtant in th German tradition. .


Swiss children were involved in many of the same types of outings as children in other European countries. Children in the city might visit city parks, although regulations in Swiss parks disouraged many play activities. Outings were restricted by the fact that few Swiss had personal cars. Thus outings at any distance were generally done by train. This did not change until after World War II. As a land-locked country there were no beaches. Thus required a trip to France ir Italy and thus relatively few Swiss made such trips. There were thermal spas as was common in neighboring Germany. Swiss thermal springs havce been known since Roman times. The oldest respoetvis Baden (meaning bathing). The Romans called it Aquae Helveticae, Swiss Springs. Swiss politicians began meeting in Baden when Switzerland was still feveloping as loose confederacy. Individuals enjoying these faculities were mostly affluent, but a spa visit could be done at a fraction of the cost of a beach trip to France and Italy. And gradually spas were developed for a range of pocketbooks. Swiss thermal spas have a tradition dating back to the 19th century, both for wellness and medical treatment. Spas offered the Swiss swimming and bathing even though they did not have beaches. Thermal and mineral springs has been seen as healthful, even curative. Thus the spas in the 19th century began adding medical staff. And sophisticated therapies for a large number of diseases were developed. Switzerland because of the clean unpolluted air also acquired a reputation for wonderful santoria. They were even more medically based. The spas were more like vacation resorts. The focus has evolved over time. Since the 1980s the emphasis has been largely on general wellness and wellbeing. But while this is the general focus, many spas also offer specialized medical care. Nost visitors, however, jut come to feel good. And the various spas commonlyn offer a wide range of ativities depending on the location. Alpine spas commonly offer hiking, biking, mountaineering, and even skiing. Often guests can enjoy magnificent alpine scenery while swimming or lounging in a pool.


Switzerland played an important role in te Reformation. Developing a tolerant relationship between Catholics and Protestsants was one of the many issues that Switzerland had to face in building a unified nation. A Catholic Swiss contributor reports that First Communion is a large celebration where all is festively dressed. He remembers his First Communion in April 1970. The children wore long cassocks. It was a cold day and under his cassock he wore a shirt, sweater, my long trousers, white tights (strumpfhose) and black shoes. He also remembers an an Italian boy who wore short trousers and strumpfhosen.

School Clothing

Switzerland is a multi-ethnic and mult-linguistic country. Until the 1960s, schoolwear was heavily influenced by the different national groups making up the Swiss union. Boys at schools in French catons, for example, commonly wore smocks while boys at schools in German catons generally did not. Swiss boys did not normally wear uniforms. Many French schools required that the younger children wear smocks. State schools did not normally establish a specific style, but some private schools did. Today in Swiss schools there are few differences from caton to caton.


Children might run errands for their parents in the years before World War II. These errands were often associated with meals. This was necessary before refrigerators and freezers were common. A lot of food was purchased fresh. They might also pick up items after school. Towns would have market areas. Children would thus pick up bread or other bnecesities. After World War II, shopping took on very different character. We are less sure about shopping for clothes and other items, but it is an interesting topic to be persued.


The Swiss are noted for wonderful toys, both wooden and mechanical toys. The technology for mechanical toys is somewhat related to the skills and technology of the watch/clock industry. We have very little information on Swiss toys, primarily because our Swiss image archive is relatively small. Nor do we know much about convehences suchg as bikcycles and scooters made in Switzerland. We suspect that some may have been imported from Germany. We do have a page on wagons, another boyhood favorite.


Work was a major sactivity that modst children were involved in through the 19th century. This of course was the state of affairs throughout history. Only in the 19h-century did governments begin ensacting minimum age laws for employing children and compulsory school attendance laws which affected availability for employment. We have very few details at this time about Swiss legislation protecting children. Switzerlkand was striongly influenced by Germany trends. The Swiss economy was similar in many ways to the German economy, but was not as highly industrialized as the nearby Ruhr valley. Many Swiss boys as they ebtered their tennyears were involved in apprenticeship schemes. Much of Switzerland was rural and dominated by agriculture. Thus many boys were invoilved in agriculural work. Most of the contry's agricultural land was divided into small family holdings. This meant than many children were involved in farm work, often chores on the family farm.

Youth Groups

We do not yet have much information on Swiss youth groups. The Boy Scouts began to organize soon after the movement was founded in Britain (1910) and Guiding began a few years later. We note a variety of different youth groups active in the early 20th century, but have few details about them at this time. We suspect that there may have been some Wandervogel groups in the early 20th century, perhaps even predating Scouting. There were the "Jungschaar" a protestant youth movement and the "Jungwacht" a Catholic Youth movement. We also note the "Kadetten". This was a paramilitary organisation, which flurished mainly in the German part of Switerland and was mandatory in certain Mirddleschools. I think the Kadetten disapperaed in the 1960s. There was not much difference between youth groups in the French and German speaking areas of Switzerland. We suspect that Hitler Youth groups were organized cladestinely during the 1930s, but have few details at this time.


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Created: 9:04 PM 11/26/2004
Last updated: 3:35 PM 4/25/2020