Today is a national holiday (Feiertag in German) in Switzerland. Swiss National Day, as we Anglophones call it, commemorates the signing of the Federal Charter in 1291, which confederated Switzerland’s first three cantons.
Stelian has the day off work, which is nice…and somewhat lucky. In Switzerland, the concept of “in lieu days” doesn’t exist, so if August 1st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, there is no day off work. So we took advantage of the free day and headed for the lake in the afternoon. Along the way, we found that Starbucks was offering a free iced tea when you made it yourself (the baristas actually handed you the measuring/shaker cup and told you the steps to follow to your desired drink — thankfully, my lemon passion iced tea turned out well even though the instructions were in Swiss German). I think this freebie was in recognition of the holiday, though it wasn’t really clear (nothing can be really clear when Schwiizertüütsch is involved).
Afterwards, we visited the lake and found that the crowds lining it were not really larger than that of an average nice Sunday. The rest of the city actually seems pretty quiet. I have the feeling that many people are on the wanderwegs today, or otherwise out-of-town.
A few other quick observations:
- There is a special bread that accompanies this holiday — unsurprising since every Swiss holiday has a specially named and/or shaped cake to go along with it. This bread is called augustweggen, and it cleverly resembles a Swiss flag with the cross in the middle.
- The Swiss seem to be crazy about fireworks for this holiday, with many offered for sale in recent weeks. This strikes me as funny given that the Swiss generally abhor noise, especially in the evening, as well as showiness and flashiness — things they generally associate with the U.S.A. Anyway, I guess our cats will spend the later part of the evening cowering under the bed — some early deployments have already sent them skittering off nervously.
- A sort of anti-invitation to the party arrived in the mail just days before the holiday, in the form of a flyer from the Swiss People’s Party (which, as you might recall from previous mentions, has the largest number of seats in the National Council) with a lovely image of a Swiss flag being trod upon by some heavy, foreign black boots, and a reminder that “mass immigration” is out of control in Switzerland and that August 1 is a good time to be thinking about how to stop it.
I think my sentiments about Swiss National Day can be summarized with this: I feel as though I’m at the birthday party of some cool and glamorous girl from my high school. She wouldn’t have thought of inviting me, but her mother forced her to. So I get to walk around and admire her beautiful house and drink the punch and eat the excellent food. As I’m trying to get closer so that I can wish her a happy birthday, I hear her not-so-softly whispering about all the people that she wishes weren’t even at the party. So I decide that maybe it’s pointless to try to make us be friends, at least at this point. But hey, I can still have a good time at her party, along with some other people who weren’t invited.
Happy August to you all, and Happy BC/Simcoe Day to my dear British Columbians and Ontario-dwellers!