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August 1st, Swiss National Day

In Switzerland, preparations for celebrating the national holiday are in full swing! It commemorates the “Letter of Alliance” signed by Switzerland’s three original cantons in 1291.

 

August 1st was celebrated for the first time in 1891, and since 1994 it has been deemed an official holiday. All over the country festive events take place including speeches by prominent public figures followed by firework displays. Since the drought and heat in the summer of 2018, many places have decided to do without bonfires and fireworks.

 

Many people decorate their homes with national, cantonal and community flags. In most places it is mandatory to decorate public buildings, streets and town squares with flags. Prayers are said for the people and the fatherland, the national anthem (the Swiss Psalm) is sung and bells are rung. Some people wear their traditional costumes, and everywhere Swiss folk music can be heard. At dusk, children carry lighted paper lanterns through the streets. All over Switzerland, church bells ring out at 8 pm for a quarter of an hour. Many other customs vary from place to place.

 

Most Swiss people are proud of their country which is blessed with a wonderful and diverse natural environment, prosperity, a low unemployment rate, a well-functioning economy and is governed by direct democracy. Solidarity is important to many people, and they are generous in their support when an emergency arises. The Helimission foundation was founded on this sound and healthy fundament in 1971, and they can look back gratefully on almost 50 years of existence.

 

Mount Säntis is the highest mountain in the Alpstein region of northeastern Switzerland at 8,209 feet. Since 2009, the weather and the state of the flag permitting, it has been decorated with the world’s largest Swiss flag for the national holiday. Fourteen professional climbers take several hours to erect the 80m x 80m (262 x 262 ft.) and 700 kg (1543 lbs.) flag at these dizzy heights on the steep rock face. When the weather is good, the flag can be seen in half of eastern Switzerland.

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