|Swiss National Day|
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If it’s true that you can judge a country’s image of itself by its National Day, then Switzerland definitely offers a relaxing sight. No military parades and no grandiose speeches on Lebensraum (living space).
On August the first, the whole country gathers in public places around bonfires and listens to speeches about the independence of the country from the Austrian rulers, which started with the Grütli Pact of 1291.
The first of August is celebrated solely in the municipalities. Only one radio and television broadcast of a speech by the President of the Confederation currently in office reminds the Swiss that their cities are united in cantons, which in turn makes the Helvetic Confederation. Thought-provoking words from an eminent cultural or political speaker, songs and music, gymnastic shows and group performances of the Swiss national anthem are the traditional elements of the holiday.
Many municipalities set off fireworks, and these spectacular light shows are often ignited from the mountains and hills. They serve as a reminder of the expulsion of the foreign bailiffs in the 14th century, for the great news was announced in this very way. The children march through the streets at dusk with candle-lit Chinese lanterns. Flags with the arms of the Confederation, the canton and the municipality fly proudly above public and private buildings alike. Even the bakers get involved, decorating their rolls of bread with little Swiss flags. The holiday takes on a whole new dimension at Neuhausen am Rheinfall in the Canton of Schaffhouse, with the illumination of the 25-meter high Rhine waterfalls.
This extravaganza is completed by a great fireworks display that draws throngs of spectators. And, like everywhere else, speeches, songs, music and the national anthem animate the evening.