August 1: How Switzerland Celebrates National Day

Every year on August 1, the Swiss celebrate their nation. Swiss National Day is a unique and patriotic event celebrated across the country to celebrate Switzerland becoming an independent confederation.

Swiss flags are everywhere on August 1, like on buildings, balconies, and church belltowers. In Säntis, there was an 80 x 80-meter Swiss flag hanging on the side of a mountain. There will be fireworks and bonfires in the evening. 

August 1 – Swiss National Day

Swiss Rütlischwur by Jean Renggli. Image Credits: Wikipedia

The Swiss National Day is one of the biggest holidays in Switzerland, as you can imagine. Wilhelm Tell, the Swiss national hero, is said to have taken an oath along with other rebels and planted the idea of a Swiss Confederation. 

This event is called the Rütli Oath (Rütlischwur in German). Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden are the three founding cantons. The oath takes place near Seelisberg, just above Lake Uri. It was with the Rütli Oath that Swiss democracy began. With the establishment of the federal state, the Rütli Oath became associated with the Swiss Federal Charter, dated 1291. 

On the Swiss National Day, August 1, citizens gather on this meadow just above Lake Uri to remember this sworn oath. August 1 is a symbolic date inspired by the Federal Charter of 1291, which dates it early in August 1291.


August 1 Celebrations: What to Expect

Image of Swiss National Day Fireworks in Basel by Clickphoto Switzerland from Pixabay

There might be different programs in different cities and places every year. There is no way to completely predict what will be available. Find out what’s going on at the local tourist office if you’re in Switzerland on the 1st of August.  In some places, like Basel, they have the fireworks a day early on the 31st of July. The party goes on until the next morning.

In any case, here are a few things you can find around you to celebrate Swiss National Day:

  • Tourist spots and homes everywhere are festooned with Swiss flags and lanterns
  • Celebration with local folk music, alpine horns, stringed dulcimers, button accordions, and other forms of music
  • Traditional dance with flag-waving
  • Brunch with local treats on a farm or mountain hut. You’ll usually need to make reservations in advance
  • Fireworks start around 10:00 p.m. in larger tourist spots and cities
  • Trychler parades in the village in the evening. Trychlers typically ring cowbells continuously while walking
  • Reciting the Federal Letter from 1291 or a politician’s own written speech
  • Village festival with food stands and cheese market for the whole family

Enjoy the August 1st celebrations!


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