Swiss National Day
Switzerland's 'birthday' on August 1st has been celebrated as the Swiss National Day since 1891.
Karl Basil Dicen
Member since 2020
This date is also known as the historic alliance of 3 cantons. This alliance was the focal point for the building of the Switzerland we know today.
The holiday is celebrated typically with bonfires and music. Families and friends gather together to enjoy the festivities. Public and private buildings are decorated with Swiss flags hung alongside the cantonal and community flags.
Typically, fireworks, organized by public and private organizations, are set off at night
In modern times, bigger scale festivals and events such as concerts are held across Switzerland.
© Nils Lindner
© donwogdo_Getty Images
I love this Swiss National Day because it is a total Swiss cultural experience - from the aesthetics, to the entertainment, the food, and the friendliness of the community. When the 1st of August comes around, Swiss flags of all sizes decorate the streets, windows of houses, and flower boxes. As it is in summer, the weather is usually good, with blue skies, flowers in bloom and the grass is still green on farms .
Since I moved to Switzerland, I have never missed any Swiss National Day celebrations and I always spend it with my partner’s family and their closest neighbours. We all gather together at a hut on a farm in the Rhein Valley in the canton of St Gallen. They sing local songs and play local instruments. Most of the conversations are in their dialect, but they always talk to me in English as I do not speak it. From the beginning, I really felt welcomed.
Food is something I look forward to on this occasion. We typically bring our own meat to put on the BBQ. Family members also bring salads and desserts to share. There is always plenty of alcohol around.
The hut is close to a creek. Some of us swim in it while others watch people floating down it in their inflatable boats. The day is long and fun, with lots of chitchat, eating and drinking. Before heading back to our respective homes, we watch the fireworks.
Important to know
I think that the Swiss National Day is a cultural event where you can integrate with the locals. The Swiss are always happy to share their history and their way of life, in the past and that of today.
The local people of St Gallen are proud of their Bratwurst which they do not eat with ketchup or mustard!
If they teach you a few words in their dialect, try to learn and use it. They will have fun listening to you struggling with the pronunciation, but they will be so proud of you for trying.
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