The Escalade in Geneva is a commemoration of the victory, in 1602, over the Savoy army that tried to attack Geneva. For more info, check out this website. What happens now is that on one of the first weekends in December, there's a lot of commemorative events in the Old Town, where people dress up in period costumes, they sell lots of typical foods (like the hot vegetable soup that was poured over the attackers) and mulled wine. The Passage de Monestier (I believe it follows the old city walls) is opened, and the towers of the Cathedral are opened, for free. Little kids also dressed in period costumes walk around selling commemorative ribbons for 5 CHF to raise money,
At the kids school, the Escalade is a big deal. They learn songs, dress up in a costume and have a parade, have vegetable soup, and very importantly, smash one of these chocolate soup tureens filled with marzipan vegetables, while chanting, "Thus perish the enemies of the republic". Then they all share the chocolate. The picture below is from the Escalade breakfast that I had at work, at which we had our own soup tureen. The little yellow and red candies were very cool—there's a big jelly candy inside PLUS a tiny little firecracker that you pull apart with a bang!
There was also a celebration at the school at night. Featured was a lot of vegetable soup, and a little talent show - the best show was a kid doing a Michael Jackson imitation. One thing that was interesting was that lots of the kids came with costumes that included a toy gun— pretty realistic looking ones. In the US, that would be enough to get you expelled, or at least suspended for a while.
Just goes to show, there's more than one way of doing things, and sensible, decent people in other countries have laws, rules, and policies that are very different from ours. And they can do just fine with them.