Get out the cowbells! Today is Swiss National Day. Throughout Switzerland’s 26 cantons, the Swiss flag is displayed on everything from window boxes to loaves of bread. Children light paper lanterns and ring bells in commemoration of the oath of Swiss Confederation that was sworn in 1291. Bonfires in the hills remind one and all how word was spread of that ancient pledge of mutual support. The day is also filled with solemn speeches, fireworks, concerts, and parades of flower-bedecked cows, as shown in today’s Doodle.
In Basel, the celebrations begin in earnest the night of July 31 with food stands, music, and revelry on both sides of the Rhine until the early hours of the morning. Spectacular fireworks also light up the sky near the Rhine Falls.
For many Swiss, preparations for the holiday begin at least a week earlier, with citizens collecting wood for enormous bonfires. Friendly competitions urge neighbors to outbuild each others’ woodpiles. As it grows dark, the sounds of a traditional accordion or Schwiizerörgeli can be heard. And when the bonfire flames get just right, Swiss sausages known as Cervelats will go on the flames, growing plump and succulent till just right to eat.
Happy Swiss National Day!