In a Land without Minarets

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in Switzerland this fall / winter, and am snowed into Zurich (or really, out of Washington) right now. Several commentators have remarked that the Swiss ban on new minarets is pretty ironic, given that so few of the Swiss go to church. But cultural identification doesn’t necessarily track worship. I’ve never seen a sophisticated European capital that as fully embraces Christmas. In London or Paris, there are very hip allusions to ironic aspects of the season, but here it seems like a more direct embrace of it. And not just in shops – I just saw a public trolley car on the main shopping thoroughfare of Zurich completely done up as Santa’s sled, being driven by Father Christmas.