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The towers of Grossmuenster Church in Zurich, Switzerland. The towers of Grossmuenster Church in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Switzerland’s “Long Night of Churches” signals hope

The annual ecumenical event being observed all over Switzerland Friday night is meant to be the symbol of hope and starting anew after the ravages of Covid-19.

By Robin Gomes

Dubbed the “Long Night of Churches”, the religious and cultural festival is organized by various Christian Churches of the country. 

During the “Long Night of Churches”, people can visit churches, chapels, parishes and communities for free, meet believers of other denominations and participate in events organized by host communities.

Held for the first time on September 17, 2016, in 80 churches in the Canton of Aargau, the festival has acquired a national character and is held in several languages. Numerous volunteers from many communities and parishes organize the night. However, this year’s festival is maintaining Covid-19 health protocols.

The Reformed Church and the Catholic Church of Aargau, which are the chief organizers, explain that the festival is designed for believers and non-believers and is suitable for all people who like to broaden their horizons or who wish to visit churches that wear a different look for the occasion. 

Places of worship will be illuminated only in candlelight. Experiences offered by churches to visitors include films, theater, dance, classic and modern music, guided tours, discussions, reading, liturgy, youth and family programmes, recollection and also moments of prayer and silence. 

Normally, the “Long Night of Churches” events are scheduled from 18.10 to 24.00. It begins with the general tolling of the bells and in most cases ends with a meditation, with a moment of reflection.

Organizers say the night is a “demonstration that good ideas know no boundaries”.

“This great ecumenical event, in fact, unites people throughout Switzerland, regardless of the obstacles posed by languages​​ or religious confessions.”  The initiative also allows non-Christians and non-believers to see places of worship from another perspective and invites them to unveil other facets of a Church in the ecclesiastical as well as secular contexts.

The "Long Night of Churches" is also held in many churches in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia and other countries.

28 May 2021, 17:20