Since 1891, August 1st has been celebrated as Swiss National Day (or just Swiss Day).
This date memorialises the historic day in 1291 when the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden came together under a single alliance with the signing of the Federal Charter of 1291 – the Pacte du Grütli, as it’s known in Swiss history.
For the next 500 years, this alliance became central to the foundation of the nation of Switzerland as we know it today.
So why is the first of August so important?
This symbolic date represents the day that that the three cantons swore an oath to serve each other under the banner of a single nation rather than as three separate factions. This laid the foundations for a lasting allegiance amongst themselves as they promised to help and support each other in times of need.
Swiss National Day celebrations
Today, the Swiss Day national holiday is celebrated in Swiss communities all around the world, including in the United States of America.
Swiss Day events also feature foods that are staples to Swiss holidays. Many unique breads, sausages, and cheeses all find their way into homes on Swiss Day.
Furthermore, many prominent Swiss political and cultural leaders speak to the public during communal celebrations, delivering their own takes on what it means to be Swiss and what the Swiss people can look forward to in the coming year.
Beyond these public statements, many Swiss Day festivities are grand and performative, often featuring choirs, concerts, and gymnastic presentations.
Larger Swiss communities will often put on firework displays, while smaller communities opt for communal bonfires. And once night falls on August 1st, hundreds of children appear in the streets carrying paper lanterns that bear the red and white cross symbol for Switzerland.
The air we breathe profoundly impacts us. Join us in celebrating Swiss National Day as we all strive for better air and a better planet.