Swiss National Day

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Swiss National Day
Flag of Switzerland.svg
Official name German: Schweizer Bundesfeiertag; French: Fête nationale suisse; Italian: Festa nazionale svizzera; Romansh: Festa naziunala svizra
Also calledFirst of August
Observed by Switzerland
SignificanceAnniversary of the Federal Charter of 1291
Date 1 August
Next time1 August 2020 (2020-08)
Frequencyannual

The Swiss National Day (German : Schweizer Bundesfeiertag; French : Fête nationale suisse; Italian : Festa nazionale svizzera; Romansh: Festa naziunala svizra) is the national holiday of Switzerland, set on 1 August. Although the founding of the Swiss Confederacy was first celebrated on this date in 1891 and annually since 1899, it has only been an official holiday since 1994. [1]

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Italian language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a regional or a traditional language in these countries, where Italians do not represent a historical minority. In the case of Romania, Italian is listed by the Government along 10 other languages which supposedly receive a "general protection", but not between those which should be granted an "advanced or enhanced" one. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Contents

History

The date is inspired by the date of the Federal Charter of 1291, Pacte du Grütli, placed in "early August", [2] when "three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation" (Schwyz, Uri and Unterwald), an action which later came to be regarded as the founding of Switzerland." [3] The document is one of several dozen pacts attested for the territory of Switzerland in the period of the mid-13th to mid-14th century. The foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy had been mostly associated with the Bund of Brunnen of 1315, or with the Rütlischwur, dated to 1307 by Aegidius Tschudi.[ citation needed ]

Federal Charter of 1291 One of the earliest constitutional documents of Switzerland

The Federal Charter or Letter of Alliance is one of the earliest constitutional documents of Switzerland. A treaty of alliance from 1291 between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, the Charter is one of a series of alliances from which the Old Swiss Confederacy emerged. In the 19th and 20th century, after the establishment of the Swiss federal state, the Charter became the founding document of Switzerland in the popular imagination.

Old Swiss Confederacy (1291-1798)

The Old Swiss Confederacy was a loose confederation of independent small states within the Holy Roman Empire. It is the precursor of the modern state of Switzerland.

Rütlischwur oath of the Old Swiss Confederacy, taken on the Rütli, a meadow above Lake Uri near Seelisberg

The Rütlischwur is the legendary oath taken at the foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy by the representatives of the three founding cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, traditionally dated to 1307. It is named for the site of the oath-taking, the Rütli, a meadow above Lake Uri near Seelisberg. Recorded in Swiss historiography from the 15th century, the oath is notably featured in the play William Tell by Friedrich Schiller (1804).

The Federal Charter of 1291 first assumed great importance in a report by the Federal Department of Home Affairs of 21 November 1889, suggesting a celebration in Bern in 1891 that would combine the city's 700th anniversary with the Confederacy's 600th anniversary.[ citation needed ]

Federal Department of Home Affairs

The Federal Department of Home Affairs is a department of the federal administration of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss ministry of the interior. As of 2012, it is headed by Federal Councillor Alain Berset.

Bern Place in Switzerland

Bern or Berne is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city", in German Bundesstadt, French ville fédérale, and Italian città federale. With a population of about 140,000, Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

The date of the Federal Charter came to replace the formerly more prominent, traditional date of 8 November Rütlischwur, 1307 in popular consciousness in the 20th century, specifically after the 650th anniversary celebrations of 1941.[ citation needed ]

It has been an official holiday since 1994, following the acceptance of a federal popular initiative in its favour in 1993.

1 August is celebrated each year with paper lantern parades, bonfires, hanging strings of Swiss flags, and fireworks. [3]

Paper lantern

A paper lantern is a lantern made of thin, brightly colored paper. Paper lanterns come in various shapes and sizes, as well as various methods of construction. In their simplest form, they are simply a paper bag with a candle placed inside, although more complicated lanterns consist of a collapsible bamboo or metal frame of hoops covered with tough paper. Sometimes, other lanterns can be made out of colored silk or vinyl. Silk lanterns are also collapsible with a metal expander and are decorated with Chinese characters and/or designs. The vinyl lanterns are more durable; they can resist rain, sunlight, and wind. Paper lanterns do not last very long, they soon break, and silk lanterns last longer. The gold paper on them will soon fade away to a pale white, and the red silk will become a mix between pink and red.

Flag of Switzerland flag

The flag of Switzerland displays a white cross in the centre of a square red field. The white cross is known as the Swiss cross. Its arms are equilateral, and their ratio of length to width is 7:6. The size of the cross in relation to the field was set in 2017 as 5:8.

Fireworks low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes

Fireworks are a class of low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display, a display of the effects produced by firework devices.

Town-specific celebrations

Fireworks in Basel Schweizer Bundesfeiertag in Basel.jpg
Fireworks in Basel

The day of independence is typically celebrated at a local municipality level, though certain events draw nationwide attention. Since the mid-19th century, Schaffhausen has illuminated the nearby 25-meter-high Rhine Falls for special events. Beginning in 1920, the waterfall has been regularly lit for the national holiday and since 1966 is now lit only for this holiday. [4] At the historic location of Rütli Meadow above Lake Lucerne, a representational celebration is staged in the location where the legendary pledge of alliance, the Rütlischwur is said to have taken place. In Basel there are fireworks at the Rhine on the evening of 31 July. [5]

Celebrations around the world

Until 2013, the largest Swiss National Day event in the USA was organized and held annually by the Swiss Benevolent Society of New York. Usually held in Manhattan, the event draws thousands of Swiss, Swiss-Americans and Friends of Switzerland from around New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The event was held at the group's former hospice in Mount Kisco, New York during the 1970s.

Since, 2014 the event format has changed with the motto Back to the roots. It is a great family event again where one can enjoy everything ranging from Swiss sausages to Raclette, Swiss wine, bands, a DJ and kids' corner. Since 2014, the event has been organized by the Swiss Society of New York, the Swiss Benevolent Society of New York and the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York.

Celebrations are also held in Washington, District of Columbia by the Swiss Club of Washington D.C. on the Swiss Embassy grounds, in Monterey County, California at the Swiss Rifle Club and in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier in Swiss Park. The Swiss Park celebration features Swiss cultural events and games, including a crossbow competition.[ citation needed ]

In Britain it is also Yorkshire Day, celebrating the county of Yorkshire. Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate, founded in 1919 by a Swiss baker, celebrate both of these days in its 6 cafe-tearooms across Yorkshire. For the National celebration, a festival is usually held every year, two Saturdays before the actual 1 August date to allow an opportunity for Swiss families based in the UK to attend prior to the long August summer break. Typically Swiss National Day is held at University College London, organised by the Swiss National Day London Committee, an independent group of volunteers, with the support of the Swiss Embassy London and other Swiss clubs such as City Swiss Club, New Helvetic Society and Unione Ticinese.

Mont Sutton Quebec hosts one of the largest Swiss National Day celebrations outside Switzerland. Each year, it features one canton, with food and products from that canton. [6]

Related Research Articles

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Unterwalden Historical canton of Switzerland

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William Tell folk hero of Switzerland

William Tell is a folk hero of Switzerland. According to the legend, Tell was an expert marksman with the crossbow who assassinated Albrecht Gessler, a tyrannical reeve of the Austrian dukes of the House of Habsburg positioned in Altdorf, in the canton of Uri. Tell's defiance and tyrannicide encouraged the population to open rebellion and a pact against the foreign rulers with neighbouring Schwyz and Unterwalden, marking the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy.

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Growth of the Old Swiss Confederacy

The Old Swiss Confederacy began as a late medieval alliance between the communities of the valleys in the Central Alps, at the time part of the Holy Roman Empire, to facilitate the management of common interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the important trade routes through the mountains. The Hohenstaufen emperors had granted these valleys reichsfrei status in the early 13th century. As reichsfrei regions, the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden were under the direct authority of the emperor without any intermediate liege lords and thus were largely autonomous.

Swiss Federal Constitution Constitution of the Swiss Confederation

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<i>White Book of Sarnen</i> manuscript

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<i>Vogt</i> (Switzerland)

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Schwurhand

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Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation historical museum in Schwyz (Switzerland)

The Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation is a history museum in Schwyz. It was built in 1936 as a national shrine for the Federal Charter of 1291, which was believed to be the founding document of the Swiss Confederation. Today, the museum explains the national myth and the actual history of the Old Swiss Confederacy. It features a collection of original documents and flags.

References

  1. "1891: Der 1. August wird zum Bundesfeiertag erklärt" [1891: August 1 is declared a federal holiday] (in German). Swiss Pro Patria Foundation. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  2. "The Federal Charter of 1291". The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  3. 1 2 "National Day". swissworld.org. Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  4. "Rhine Falls big fireworks display: "Fire on the rocks!"". RhineFall.ch. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  5. "Swiss National Day on the Rhine 2016". Kanton Basel-Stadt. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  6. "Swiss National Holiday Celebration". Federation of Swiss Societies in Eastern Canada. Retrieved 31 July 2017.