National Day in Switzerland in 2023



  How long until National Day?
National Day
  Dates of National Day in Switzerland
2024 Switzerland Thu, Aug 1 National Holiday
2023 Switzerland Tue, Aug 1 National Holiday
2022 Switzerland Mon, Aug 1 National Holiday
2021 Switzerland Sun, Aug 1 National Holiday
2020 Switzerland Sat, Aug 1 National Holiday
  Summary

On August 1st 1291, the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed the Federal Charter on the Rütli field, near to Lake Lucerne

  Local name
Bundesfeier

When is Swiss National Day?

August 1st is a national public holiday in Switzerland. It marks the annual celebration of Swiss National (or Confederation) Day.

In German the day is known as ' Schweizer Bundesfeier'; in French as 'Fête nationale Suisse'; in Italian as 'Festa nazionale svizzera' and Romansh as ' Fiasta naziunala Svizra'.

History of Swiss National Day

It was in 1891 that the date of Swiss National Day was first decided upon, though it took over a hundred years before the industrious Swiss decided to have a vote and give themselves the day off.

On 26 September 1993, the people of Switzerland voted overwhelmingly (86.3%) for a nationwide public holiday on this date, and the day became an official national holiday in 1994.

August 1st was chosen because this was said to be the day, in 1291, on which the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed the Federal Charter on the Rütli field, near to Lake Lucerne.

The Federal Charter 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. 

The charter does not specifically mention August 1st as the date, but instead refers to "at the beginning of the month of August 1291".

The charter united the signatories in the struggle against Habsburg rule, the family then possessing the Duchy of Austria in the Holy Roman Empire. The signing of the charter has now become regarded as the foundation of Switzerland.

How is Swiss National Day celebrated?

The official celebration fittingly takes place at Rütli field, where a representational celebration is staged in the location where the signing of the charter took place.

Similar to the American Independence Day celebrations, big family gatherings and barbeques are a common feature of the day. Communities across Switzerland celebrate the occasion with bonfires, fireworks, and parades. The tradition of lighting a bonfire in high summer predates National day. The custom of lighting a bonfire on St. John's Day (June 24th), was common across Europe; though this was in turn, a Christian version of much older Midsummer Celebrations taking place on or around that date.

On the national holiday, a common sight in bakeries and shops are bread rolls with the national flag stuck on the top. These are "1 August Weggli". They were first designed by the Swiss Bakers and Confectioners Association in 1959. Based on a simple and standardised recipe, they were created as a specialty for the national festival. And their enduring popularity shows that the initiative was a great success.

These Weggli are an integral part of the traditional August 1st brunch, which many farms offer. This is a National Day tradition that has gained in popularity over the last couple of years. It is particularly popular among families with children since it's not only a huge culinary delight in form of a "farmers" breakfast, but everyone also gets to experience what it's like to keep a farm running. (everything from how to produce cheese, bread, how to make jam, getting close to the animals, etc.)

According to the Swiss Farmers’ Association, this tradition has existed for 30 years. There is even a search engine that indicates which farms offer such a “Buurezmorge”.

For a list of Swiss National Day events, visit MySwizerland.com

As this is a national holiday in Switzerland, most shops and grocery stores remain closed. Public transport operates according to Sunday schedules.

Some shops in tourist villages may be open. Grocery stores at train stations and gas station shops are usually open and run normally.

Swiss National Anthem

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.

Did you know?

Three facts about National Day

Switzerland has no single Head of State. Instead it has a seven-member executive council, which serves as the Swiss collective head of state.

In Switzerland, citizens can challenge a law passed by Parliament, if they are able to gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If they manage to get the required number of signatures, a national vote is held where voters decide whether to accept or reject the law.

In the 1960s, the Swiss government spent more on advertising and subsidising cheese than it did on the army.

More facts about National Day

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