We took this picture last year during the Appenzeller Landsg’mend – direct democracy, during the single day of the year when all eligible citizens of the Canton elect government officials and vote on the budget.
One of our favorite holidays is today. Celebrated with parties all over the world, where the wandering Swiss land – business people, travelers and vacationers, and ex-pats party down for a day, remembering their origins. According to Swissworld.org
August 1st is to the Swiss what July 4th is to Americans, or July 14th to the French. Swiss national day is only just over a century old, and it was only in 1993 that the hardworking Swiss agreed that they could all take the day off, but the event it commemorates took place 700 years ago, and at the heart of the celebrations is a custom which doubtless goes back into the mists of time.
The day was chosen because August 1st 1291 was the date on which three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an act which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland. The representatives of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri met on the Rütli field, high above Lake Lucerne, to swear a bond of brotherhood, and agree to act jointly if their freedoms were threatened by outside aggressors.
The NeueZurcherZeitung, NZZ for short, is Zurich’s biggest paper – the NYT of Switzerland, if you will. Like other papers in the country, they are recording all the many, many speeches being uttered today to celebrate Ersti August.
One nice article Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga declares “No one has a monopoly on saying what it is to be a correct Swiss person.” She wants Swizterland to be open to the outside world, without closing down the outspoken nature of the Swiss and their society. The Swiss are always discussing who they are, what are the essentials of their national character, given that their are four official languages in the country. They do, of course, secretly consider themselves (never bragging about it), superior to all in the world.
And now for some real Appenzeller musik!