Sep 22 2008
The metro was unusually empty this morning. When I got to campus, there were very few people around. And when I tried to get into my building, it was locked and my temporary ID wasn’t working. I piggybacked in eventually, only to find the lab totally empty.
Turns out, it’s le Jeûne fédéral here in the Canton of Vaud (rhymes with “woah”) and much of the country. Literally the “Federal Fast,” I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like a Swiss version of Yom Kippur, though it was originally a religious fast day. In Geneva they already had le Jeûne genevois (“the Genevan Fast”) and don’t do the federal one, for some reason—so no surprise day off for Jackie. To be fair, I wasn’t caught totally unaware: I knew the library and stores in town were going to be closed. In fact, I was misled by an automated e-mail announcing the start this week of the French classes I enrolled in at EPFL. First class was supposed to be today. But apparently some other e-mail said classes don’t start until tomorrow. Oh well.
From what I could piece together from the English Wikipedia entry for Jeûne genevois and the French Wikipedia entry for Jeûne fédéral, the day has something to do with the Reformation, Protestant solidarity, and eating prune tarts. I’ll do some more research later. In the meantime, no work! I’m off to purchase a used microwave from some ex-pats.