Swiss National Day, known as Schweizer Bundesfeier in German; Fête Nationale Suisse in French; Festa Nazionale Svizzera in Italian; and Fiasta Naziunala Svizra in Romanian, is typically set for August 1.
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On or about August 1, 1291, the Federal Charter of 1291, Pacte du Grutli, came into being when three Alpine cantons formed an alliance near the present day region of Lucern.
Promising mutual assistance against the rapidly encroaching Hapsburgs, the ruling family that possessed the Austrian claims during the Holy Roman Empire, this forms the basis for Swiss National Day that is celebrated each year.
During both world wars of the 20th century, the Swiss maintained a status of neutrality with great difficulty. That said, few nations have ever tried to invade Switzerland due to its geographical dominance in mountainous terrains and vast lakes.
Cultural Events, Cuisine and Festivities
Swiss National Day is one of the few national celebrations that provokes festivities in several other nations throughout the world. Amazingly, one of the most important and largest celebrations takes place in New York City when the event brings out tens of thousands of Swiss, Swiss-Americans and Friends of Switzerland from around New York and the northeast states.
For the British, it’s commonly known as Yorkshire Day, after the county of Yorkshire. It is typically celebrated in Yorkshire by visiting cafe-tearooms for special regional treats.
A growing new tradition, having breakfast at a farm, brings out entire families to learn what it’s like to run a farm: milking cows, cheese production, baking of bread, making jam and getting close to farm animals.With popular cheese dishes being fondue and Raclette, and Rösti, an equally popular potato-cheese dish being eaten by residents and visitors alike, no wonder Switzerland is world renown for culinary delights.Top off with a piping hot cup of decadent Swiss chocolate, nothing remains but to taste the drink with a side of special bread rolls known as Augustweggen that come served with a small Swiss flag sticking out of the top.
Curiously, Swiss National Day celebrations take place not so much in the capital of Geneva, but more so through other communities in Switzerland.Similar to the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States, family picnics and barbeques accompanied by paper lantern parades, hanging strings of the easily distinguished white on red cross Swiss flags, competitive rifle shooting matches and log-throwing contests become events of renown in various communities.Likewise, marathon runs and brightly lit bonfires on the highest hills commemorate the expulsion of various foreign invaders through the centuries on this cherished national holiday.At the Rhine Falls near Schaffausen, a powerful waterfall gets illuminated in one famous ceremony. Then, followed by loud and inspiring fireworks, a visitor’s evening is complete with a cup of that famous hot Swiss chocolate – yes, even in August.
Known for its so many famous contributions such as superior Swiss watch-making, decadent Swiss chocolate, comfort foods such as Swiss cheese, gold depositories and fine Swiss wines, the famed Vatican Swiss Guard permanently stationed in Rome, mountain ski resorts and even the giant, beautiful and noble Saint Bernard pedigree that has played such an important part through the years, the Swiss today still maintain a strong, rich sense of identity and close-knit community.
Based on centuries-old values of federalism and fierce-independence, what better way to join the Swiss as they celebrate Swiss National Day each year.