In Switzerland, you can’t vacuum on a Sunday. You can’t mow your lawn or wash your car. (Unless you want to risk a hefty fine, or a cranky neighbor.)
The grocery stores are all closed, so you’d better stock up on Saturday, because you won’t be picking up any last-minute burger buns or an extra six-pack for your barbecue.
That’s German for rest period. Off-season. Quiet time.
The same rules apply from 10pm-6am. (Don’t shower or flush your toilet overnight.)
And from 12-1pm on weekdays. Craftspeople stop working. Children nap. Shops close. Put your brass instruments away and chill out for an hour over lunch.
We are loud Americans, and so of course we often forget this. Especially when we first moved here. We felt so. damn. loud.
After nearly five years, though, Ruhezeit feels pretty damn good. It’s like a collective cultural savasana.
On Sundays, instead of shopping or working, Swiss folks go hiking — in stark contrast to Americans’ Costco runs. They ramble along village streets for family walks, toddlers wheeling by on balance bikes. They sit on their terraces and watch the neighbors stroll past.
Something about this all feels so healthy, and balanced, and SANE. Simple. Conscious. (Especially the part about not shopping.) Being together, in their bodies, out in nature.
This Sabbath practice originated in Jewish and Christian traditions, but it continues, even as Swiss culture grows ever more agnostic.
There’s a lot of buzz lately about the idea that in white supremacist capitalist culture, rest is resistance. This is so true. (Thanks, @thenapministry.)
Ruhezeit reminds me that, quite simply, rest is also just HUMAN. And I’m grateful for this enforced weekly quiet, even as we still sometimes blow it using the blender for smoothies at 7am or hollering too loudly over a FIFA23 victory goal.
Find your off-season. Your Ruhezeit.
Take your savasana. Whatever that looks like.