Switzerland is known for its beautiful Alps, the scenery, and the culture. A good question is how did this culture evolve, and how is it that Switzerland has come to exist for nearly eight hundred years? National holidays reveal the character of a nation. In Switzerland, this is the 1st of August; this is the day that everyone comes together in order to celebrate the founding of the country. The Switzerland National Holiday commemorates the success of the Swiss Confederation in 1291 (Google Doodle). This is a long time ago—nearly eight hundred years that Switzerland has been in celebration of this day. On this day in 1291, the three cantons (domains) of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri came together and formed what is now known as Switzerland (Google Doodle). On this day, men from these three cantons came together to promise allegiance and protection to one another (Expatica).
How is it that this day is celebrated? It is certainly rooted in tradition, especially considering how long that he celebration has been going on. It is celebrated all across Switzerland, with bonfires, fireworks, and lots of Swiss flags (Google Doodle). Everyone eats delicious pastries. A “farmer’s breakfast” is the traditional way to start the day: Fresh cheeses, a bakery-special called “Zopf,” and a dish of rösti are the normal fare for the day (Google Doodle). In the late afternoon and early evening, there are church bells which can be heard across the land which ring out for fifteen minutes (Google Doodle). While the church bells ring, people decorate their homes with intricately designed paper lanterns (Google Doodle).

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The holiday has different names in different countries: “Whether you call it Schweizer Bundesfeier in German, Fête nationale suisse in French, Festa nazionale svizzera in Italian, or Fiasta naziunala Svizra in Romansh…” (Google Doodle). People celebrate by performing to the best of their abilities. Whether it be political speeches or in gymnastics, the Swiss people show their national pride on August 1st by performing to the best of their skills (Expatica). It is also a day that some communities, the ones who can afford to, will purchase fireworks in order to add to the festivities (Expatica).

The Swiss National Day is a day that children carry paper lanterns through the streets, and bakeries feature specialized Swiss rolls with the swiss flag atop [Appendix A] (Expatica). There is a firework display that is held on July 31, the day before the national holiday, called the Rhine Falls fireworks [Appendix B] (Expatica). This show is referred to as the fire on the rocks, and many citizens book tickets to the Rhine Falls chow near Schaffhausen, which has been a tradition since the mid-nineteenth century (Expatica). Thousands of spectators gather at the show at Rhine Falls, some even reserve dinner and have special seats to appreciate the show (Expaitca).

In Geneva, the festivities and activities continue for nearly two weeks after the first of August (Expatica). The festivities start an Bastions Park with sports, workshops, and lots of food vendors (Expatica). Then, at 5:00, there is an official reading of the Federal Charter that was written in 1291 (Expatica). After this reading, there is dancing, a paper lantern parade, and a variety of performances and dance shows—sometimes even DJ beats and a bonfire are common ways to celebrate (Expatica). The Swiss National Day is a day that has been in existence for nearly eight hundred years, but the festivities are fresh and exuberant every year. The Swiss National Holiday is a great time for visitors to travel to Switzerland if they want to get a taste of modern times and historical roots.

  • GoogleDoodle. “Switzerland National Day.” Google Doodle, 2017, www.google.com/doodles/switzerland-national-day-2017. Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.
  • Expatica. “Swiss National Day—1 August.” Expatica, 2017, https://www.expatica.com/ch/about/Swiss-National-Day-1-August_103060.html. Accessed 13 Dec. 2017.