Every year on 1 August, Swiss celebrate the founding of their nation with barbecues, friends, town celebrations and a lot of fireworks.
There are many ways of enjoying this day off, but here is selection of unmissable Swiss National Day celebrations:
Many prefer to start off their day with a hearty farmer’s brunch. While this tradition has been around for a long time, about 400 farms have created a network in recent years which makes discovering and booking your seats a breeze.
The foods are local and often organic, but all brunch tickets guarantee you an all-you-can-eat experience! Treat your tastebuds to some home cooked pies, smoked sausage, fresh cider, hardboiled eggs, crispy Röschti with bacon or a range of crunchy Müesli cereals and breads…
Apart from free-roaming chickens, most farms will offer some kind of entertainment for the kids. Expect fun games in the haystack, horse carriage rides or petting zoos. For the adults, many farmers offer tours of the premises.
Cow Riding at Bolderhof
Why not combine a farmer’s brunch with – well – cow riding? It may sound odd, but as we found out last year, this is the ultimate Swiss experience! For only 2 francs a person, you can take a spin on one of Bolderhof’s calm bovines…
This farm is located just outside of Stein am Rhein and is also holding the traditional brunch (reservation required).
Swiss Wrestling “Schwingen” Tournaments
Get up close with the Swiss version of wrestling! Carried out in a ring of sawdust, two Schwinger will attempt to wrestle it out by holding onto each other’s baggy pants and belts. As a token of appreciation, the winner of each Schwingen match will dust off the loser’s back.
Traditionally, Höhenfeuer served as a way of communication between the different settlements. For one, they would be lit to warn others of approaching danger. Hiking to one of these gigantic bonfires on August 1 is truly an unforgettable experience for the entire family. On hillsides near and far, your eyes will be drawn to many more bonfires from surrounding villages.
For bigger events, check out the events calendar of Switzerland Tourism. However, most every community will light a bonfire – making a detailed schedule pointless!
If there is one season for fireworks, it is summer! In Switzerland, kids of all ages are looking forward to shooting off fireworks items like fountains, sparklers, rockets, and firecrackers. And to the delight of everyone, some larger towns will light up the sky with magnificent firework displays!
– Flüelen (Seepromenade), July 31
– Rhine Falls fireworks display “Fire on the Rocks”, July 31
– Stein am Rhein, Aug 1, 10 PM (Editor’s choice: Spend the afternoon swimming in the Rhine river, enjoy dinner in Stein am Rhein and get ready for the fireworks…)
For a comprehensive schedule of events, check out MySwitzerland.com
But what is it all about?..
1. The Federal Charter of 1291
Switzerland’s national celebration, held every year on 1 August, celebrates the signing of the Federal Charter of 1291 in early August of that year. The three cantons of Uri, Unterwalden – now the two half cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden, and Schwyz, agreed to stand together against outside judges and aggressors.
Legend has it that a group of freedom-loving men swore an oath of allegiance on the Rütli meadow (or Grütli) on the shore of Lake Lucerne in the canton of Uri.
2. Charter rediscovered in 1758
The Federal Charter of 1291 was officially regarded as Switzerland’s founding document only in the late 19th century. The latin document was rediscovered in 1758 in the Schwyz archives. The Swiss government has officially regarded it as Switzerland’s founding document since the late 1800s. The first official celebration of the Charter took place in 1891 to commemorate its 600th anniversary. It became an annual celebration from 1899.
3. National public holiday starts in 1994
The 1st of August only became a national public holiday in 1 August 1994. On 26 September 1993, the people of Switzerland voted overwhelmingly (86.3%) for a nationwide public holiday on this date.
4. National anthem made official in 1981
Switzerland’s national anthem only became official in 1981. On this date, the current anthem, the Swiss Psalm, officially replaced an earlier version sung to the British tune of God save the Queen.
One of my favorite places in Switzerland is Interlaken. Don´t miss to visit when you are in Switzerland .