I walked into the grocery store, picked up my basket and smiled. It was Sunday and I was shopping. Ah, freedom. This was a highlight of my summer vacation back in the United States. (Simple pleasures)
One Swiss tradition / law that has taken some getting used to is (almost all) businesses close on Sundays.
With roots in Christianity’s day of rest, the sheltered Sunday is a bit annoying. There’s nothing like ruining your Rice Crispy treats and not being able to run out for more marshmallows because, God forbid people work on Sunday. So they say.
Being back in the States, I was beside myself with the knowledge that I could screw up any old recipe and it didn’t matter, I could shop, shop, shop away. Calendar be damned.
Fast forward to vacation’s end, back in Bern, and back to God’s law. Grrr.
Aside from the random odd or end, we have to do our grocery shopping on Saturday. We shop together as a family and Saturday is Dom’s day off. We make a menu for the week. We stick (generally) to it.
It’s like having a timer running. Better get that now, because nothing’s open Sunday.
But then I found there’s something freeing about the restrictions. It’s sort of like a federally mandated deadline – and me and deadlines are trusted friends. Get your crap done by Saturday, and then relax.
When Sunday comes, there’s nothing hanging over our heads. It’s a day of pancakes and coffee with amaretti / family time / sightseeing. Whatever we decide to do.
With the ability to always shop, you end up always shopping.
It’s like laundry. I’m allowed just one day each week to do laundry in our communal machine shared with five other families. (Sunday is the day of rest, thus, no one is “supposed” to do laundry. Tell that to the Super.)
Someone asked me, while I was on vacation with total access to a washer and dryer 24/7: “Isn’t it nice to be able to do laundry every day if you want?”
At first I thought: “Heck yeah!” I love being able to throw in a load if I get baby puke on my shirt.
Then I thought, you know, if I can do laundry every day I would be doing laundry every day. And who wants to do laundry every day? Same with grocery shopping.
I see now I’m cool with having nothing to do on Sunday but putz around, ruin recipes, go for walks, watch movies, hit the playground circuit, have a picnic in some new valley and on and on.
Switzerland can keep their Sundays sacred for all I care.
I am thankful, however, that a 2005 referendum (opposed by labor unions and conservative Christian groups, according to this Wiki article) passed, allowing small stores in train stations and airports to remain open. I’ve more than once made use of the grocer at the Bern train station when I’ve had to redo dinner.
Thank you, people of Switzerland. It’s good to know there are some small options.