Banntag (Community Border Inspection Day)

On Ascension Day (this year, May 9) or another day in May, if you hear gun shots throughout the day in your community, chances are they are celebrating their “Banntag”—a traditional event dating back to the mid-1400s that originally served to ensure that the borders of the community were still intact and that no border markers had been moved by neighboring communities to “steal” some of the land. To this end, the men from the community, armed with their guns, would walk around the perimeter of the community to check on all of the border markers.

Today the Banntag in many villages has become a social event for the whole community, with citizens walking along sections of the borders in different groups and then meeting again for a picnic accompanied by music, a speech of the community’s mayor, and some updates on important events in the community. Some communities, such as Liestal and Sissach, however, still celebrate a more traditional version of the Banntag, where only men may participate, typically wearing a hat decorated with some flowers or small twigs, and they still may carry some old guns that will be fired occasionally.

In Liestal, Banntag is the most important secular holiday for the men and children. It will be held this year on May 6 and is even an official holiday! On the Monday before Ascension Day, accompanied acoustically by the sounds of drums and pipes as well as the bangs of muzzle-loaders and guide pistols, they march along the city limits in four groups. The men wear flower-decorated hats and carry a walking stick, which may be needed after the “breakfast” break at the latest, as the wine is drunk from four-deciliter glasses!

Banntag 2024 will also be celebrated in many other neighboring communities on various dates in May, including:

If you live in Baselland, check with your community to experience a Banntag near you. And remember, don’t be worried if you hear shooting on these days, there is no act of aggression involved!