Swiss National Day

03 August 2021

Each year on August 1st, the Swiss celebrate the founding of the Confederation. Here we look at some of the traditions and events associated with the day...

In 1291, the Cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden concluded a historic alliance that was to form the basis of the Swiss Confederation.

Since 1981, the Swiss have celebrated this event on the 1st August each year. Here, we look at some of the more traditional (and some of the lesser known) ways in which the day is commemorated...

Brunch

Brunch is a big deal in Switzerland! On Swiss National Day, many people go to nearby farms where brunches are provided for groups ranging from a few tables up to crowds of hundreds. Bircher muesli, zopf bread and a range of cold meats are staple offerings here and are often washed down with locally produced 'apple wine'. 

Fireworks

The Swiss love a good firework display and on the evening of August 1st, the skyline is often illuminated with a range of brightly coloured explosions. Swiss National Day celebrations are often organised by local communities or business associations and it can get quite competitive when it comes to the biggest and brightest fireworks!

Choirs and Gymnasts

Community celebrations are very common on Swiss National Day especially in smaller towns and villages. Often a prominent public figure will deliver a speech, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Entertainment can then be provided in the form of a choir, concert or even gymnastics display (or occasionally all three!).

Natural Wonders

As a country filled with areas of outstanding natural beauty, it's no surprise that some of these features are incoporated into the 1st August celebrations. One regular tradition is the illumination of the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. Since 1920 these spectacular waterfalls have been lit up each Swiss National Day providing an incredible visual experience for anyone lucky enough to witness it.

Bonfires

As well as the firework displays, bonfires (or höhefüür) are often lit on hill tops or other elevated locations. These represent the expulsion of foreign baliffs in the mid-fourteenth century when these fires were used as signals to spread the news from town to town.

Flags, flags and more flags

One thing you won't miss on August 1st is the Swiss flag! Public and private building are decorated with both the national and cantonal flags, parades display flags through the streets and even the bakers stick small national flags into their breads and cakes.

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