- Swiss National Day
The Swiss National Day (German: Schweizer Bundesfeier; French: Fête nationale Suisse; Italian: Festa nazionale svizzera; Romansh: Fiasta naziunala Svizra) is the national holiday of Switzerland, set on 1 August. It is an official national holiday since 1994, although the day had been suggested for the celebration of the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy as early as 1889.
The date is inspired by the date of the Federal Charter of 1291, placed in "early August" (primo incipiente mense Augusto). 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.
The Federal Charter of 1291 was first attached a greater importance in a report by the Federal Department of Home Affairs of 21 November of 1889, suggesting a celebration in Bern in 1891 that would combine the city's 700th anniversary with the Confederacy's 600th anniversary.
The date of the Federal Charter came to replace the formerly more prominent, traditional date of the Rütlischwur of 8 November 1307 in popular consciousness in the 20th century, specifically after the 650th anniversary celebrations of 1941.
The day of independence is typically celebrated at a local, municipality level though certain events draw nation-wide attention. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen has illuminated its 25 meter high waterfalls 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. 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.
Swiss National Day celebrations around the world
The largest Swiss National Day event in the USA is organized and held annually by the Swiss Benevolent Society of New York. Usually held in Manhattan, New York, the event draws thousands of Swiss, Swiss-Americans and Friends of Switzerland from around New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. This tradition goes back several decades, and was originally held at their former hospice in Mount Kisco, New York during the 1970's.
Celebrations are also held in Washington, District of Columbia by the Swiss Club of Washington D.C. on the Swiss Embassy grounds, 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.
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