Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Swiss National Day

1st August is Swiss National Day (Nationalfeiertag / Fête National). It's a celebration of the signing of the Helvetic Confederation on 1st August 1291. Full history here on Wikipedia.

In short, 1st August is about countryside brunches (provided on farms all over the country), a day of work (everything is closed), and lots and lots of fireworks. People don't seem to have much regard for safety and fireworks were screaming all over the place, particularly in crowded areas. Dangerous, surely, but also a lotta fun.

Celebrations on the Rütli meadow where the confederation was agreed and documented have been marred in recent years by Hitler-saluting nationalists who support the continuation of Swiss independence and resistance to calls to join the European Union (Switzerland is surrounded by EU countries). The reality of neutral Switzerland's position vis-à-vis the EU is complicated and by no means defined by neo-nazism, but this remains a disturbing trend. Most Swiss distance themselves from these extremists.

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