Swiss Watching trivia, No 1: National Day

August 1, 2010, 1 Comment

RuetlischwurSwiss National Day


Switzerland’s birthday is traditionally celebrated on 1 August, marking the founding of the confederation. Back in 1291 three men met in Rütli meadow beside Lake Lucerne and took a vow to be friends forever. The men in the field were Walter Fürst from Canton Uri, Werner Stauffacher from Canton Schwyz and Arnold von Melchtal from Canton Unterwalden – William Tell was noticeable by his absence. These three, the original Eidgenosse, stood in the August sunshine, placed their left hands one on top of the other, raised their right hands above their heads in a sort of elevated Scout’s honour salute, and swore to help each other through thick and thin, in peace and war, forever and ever, Amen. To practise this Swiss three-fingered salute, clench the two smallest fingers to your palm, then stick out the other two with your thumb.

In fact 1 August has only been celebrated as Swiss National Day since 1891 and only became an official public holiday in the 1990s.

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