Switzerland is celebrating August 1
SWITZERLAND (eTN) - On August 1, each corner and mountain of Switzerland is in festive mood.
SWITZERLAND (eTN) – On August 1, each corner and mountain of Switzerland is in festive mood. Up the mountains and downhill to the lakes – it is the biggest celebration of the year, with fireworks, bonfires, and barbecues, Switzerland is celebrating.
Swissness is everywhere. But why is that?
It is Swiss National day! On August 1, the whole country gathers in public places around bonfires and listens to speeches about the independence of the country from the Austrian rulers, which started with the Grutli Pact of 1291.
Nowhere else in Europe is there a National Day that it is celebrated in such an immense way.
While France is celebrating its 4th of July with big parades on the Champs Elysee, Switzerland is celebrating pure Swissness.
Spectacular fireworks all over Switzerland in breathtaking sceneries at night, mostly with a great music scene, can be seen on the lakes of Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, and Lugano – but also high up in the mountains, like in Davos, St. Moritz, Arosa, etc. with thousands of people gathering to take part in this gigantic celebration.
It’s fun. Swiss flags are hanging out of most of the windows and festive decorations are even seen in the tiniest village, and no mountain hut is left out. It is by miracle that the Swiss cows are not painted in red.
Children proudly carry candle-lit Swiss lanterns at dusk through the streets and parents wave paper flags.
Flags of the canton and the municipality fly proudly above public and private buildings alike, and even the bakers get involved, decorating their rolls of bread with little Swiss flags.
The holiday takes on a whole new dimension at Neuhausen am Rheinfall in the Canton of Schaffhouse, with the illumination of the 25-meter high Rhine waterfalls.
Many prefer to start off the 1st of August with a hearty farmer’s brunch, a tradition that has been around for a long time with about 400 farms that have created a network in recent years by catering to the guests on long tables in their stables while cows are on holiday up in the mountains.
Throughout Switzerland supermarkets sell tons of Swiss (paper) flags, Swiss napkins, Swiss candies, Swiss fondue, Swiss pickles, and Swiss fireworks en masse prior to the National Day of August 1, because on August 1, everything is closed in Switzerland.
While border towns are preparing for the biggest Swiss invasion of the year, the German city of Konstanz, for instance, is expecting over 40,000 cars from Switzerland and has enforced police and sales teams in shops.
What is the significance of the National Day of Switzerland?
August 1 was chosen as the National Day of Switzerland because three Alpine cantons – Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri – took a pledge of confederation and promised to fight together if their sovereignty was threatened. This act of coming together and taking the vow to act jointly in face of external threat later became the foundation of Switzerland.
The representatives of the three cantons met on Rutli field, above Lake Lucerne, and even today the official National Day celebrations, including the public speech by the President, takes place on Rutli.
Wealthy communities or tourist offices may also sponsor a display of fireworks. Bonfires, mainly on hills and other elevated spots, commemorate the expulsion of foreign bailiffs in the fourteenth century, the news of which was spread in this manner in those days in the streets at night.
A huge celebration is staged at the Rutli Meadow in the canton of Uri above Lake Lucerne. It takes place in the same place where the legendary pledge of alliance was pronounced.
But it does not end here. August 1 receptions in Swiss embassies around the world are most popular and usually great fun, as the weather is nice and everything is less formal.
How is National Day of Switzerland celebrated?
The National Day was officially declared a holiday in 1993. This colorful Swiss holiday is marked with speeches, bonfires, barbecues, music, and gymnastic shows. Across the nation, municipalities displayed fireworks that are usually set off from the hills, recalling the euphoric moment when the foreign bailiffs were expelled.
The day was chosen because August 1, 1291 is the date on which three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an act which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland. The representatives of Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri met on Rutli field, high above Lake Lucerne, to swear a bond of brotherhood, and agree to act jointly if their freedoms were threatened by outside aggressors.
In New York, this year’s Swiss National Day celebration will be celebrated in Central Park Zoo on the eve of August 1 with Swiss celebrity Chef Reto Mathis (St. Moritz) doing a culinary journey through Switzerland with a tasting menu showcasing diverse regional specialties and a Swiss wine tasting tour.
Another highlight on same day is the New York premiere of the Rezero ballbot at 7:30 pm, an extraordinarily agile robot designed to move on a single sphere instead of wheels invented by a team of Swiss engineers from Zurich ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, showing how science came to life, followed by a speech from H.E. Ambassador Francois Barras, Consul General of Switzerland.
In Canada, Swiss National Day is celebrated in the town of Sutton, on the weekend of August 2-3 every summer. The Federation of Swiss Societies of Eastern Canada Inc. organizes an imposing celebration at Mont Sutton. This year, the 37th edition of Swiss National Day will take place on Saturday, August 3.