Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Happy birthday “Switzerland”


Why the quote marks one might ask: “Switzerland”, “Suisse”, “Schweiz” and “Swizzera” all describe in an easy manner the small country in the middle of Europe whose official name is Swiss Confederation being as it is 26 cantons bound together in a common community with the federal government in Bern.

I’ll spare you the history lessons, but it is now commonly acknowledged that the oath taken in 1291 by the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz (thus the name – the Swiss are nothing if not pragmatic and this was probably the easiest of the three to remember and pronounce in other languages) and Unterwald to be mutually protective against the Hapsburgs is the founding of what we know call Switzerland. From 3 cantons it grew to the present 26, each canton joining for its own reasons, not so much because of a shared identity (4 national languages), but more to guarantee their own independence.

The celebration of a National Holiday on August 1st  began in 1891 but trust the hard-working Swiss to not make it an official holiday until 1994.

It is still celebrated exclusively by communities throughout the cantons, most involve the burning of a bonfire at some point although this year with the elevated fire warnings there may be exceptions. Usually the local volunteer firm brigade takes care of it.

That’s the basic facts: this morning when I awoke – fever free – yeah I realized that I could actually remember where I was every 1st of August for the last 7 decades!
1948 – not yet here, I guess I wanted to have my own day as I missed being born on my favorite aunt’s, another aunt’s and my own mother’s birthdays.
1958 – Washington D.C. – the first – and most epic of my road trips when the whole family accompanied my father. We drove all along the Southern states of the USA and returned home via the Northern ones. This was the only time I saw my maternal grandfather.
1968 – Had just finished exams for my first Alliance Française in Collonges-sous-Salève, France. Who knew that I would eventually come back a second year then return for good a few years later.
1978 –Son number one was just months old so summer mainly in Europe
1988 – A boat ride to Anières, a picnic with friends
1998 – glad to be home … minus a cancerous tumor
2008 – Relaxing with local friend
2018 – In my own village, that is if the heat and the residue of my virus don’t get to me!

There have been many ways of celebrating August 1st in between – rarely not here to enjoy them. I may not be around when Switzerland celebrates its’  800th, but I was for the 700th.
Happy Birthday Switzerland

1st of August 2018