Less than a month after celebrating the independence of the United States of America, Swiss-Americans celebrate another national holiday that is just as important. Swiss National Day, set on August 1st, recognizes the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291 with fireworks, bonfire, and festive Swiss lanterns, music, and cuisine.
Switzerland was founded as an independent nation in 1291, through the alliance of the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden. This holiday has been celebrated since 1891, but was only recognized as the official national holiday in 1994. Read more on Wikipedia.
Celebrating With the NHS
The NHS celebrates Swiss National Day every year with an event many members and guests affectionately refer to as our “First of August Celebration!” On the Saturday closest to August 1st, we gather at a place in the Greater Delaware Valley area to enjoy the festivities that include good food like Fleischkaese and Ham garnished with member-sponsored side dishes and dessert. The accordionist performs traditional and familiar tunes hoping to tease members to enjoy some dancing.
The event closes out with the address of our Swiss Club President and the playing of the recorded speech by the Swiss Bundespräsident. We all (especially the children) enjoy the lampion parade, the lighting of the bonfire as well as the singing of traditional Swiss songs.
The NHS has invited the community to celebrate National Day since 1951, at a variety of venues:
- Fred Vogel’s Farm in Somerton, PA (1951)
- the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein in Philadelphia (1970-1972)
- the Swiss Consulate in Philadelphia (1973-1976) with a Cheese Fondue (in the Summer time?)
- the Schultz- and Mullestein farm (1977/1978)
- at the Riverfront Theater in Philadelphia (1979) with a record attendance of 230 who enjoyed the performance of the Jodlerklub Edelweiss of Zofingen
- several times at the Swiss Pines
- Owl’s Nest Country Club and the Mullestein farm (1980-1986), the ’86 even was rained out, but attendees still enjoyed the speech given by Dr. Samuel Laeuchli and the taped message of the Bundespraesident
- at the VFW in Horsham (1987-1988)
- the Swiss Pines (1989)
- the Saunders Wood Park (1990)
- again several times at the Swiss Pines and Fallow Hill Farm (1991-1995)
- the Fenimore Woods Park (1996-1997)
- and since 1998 at the beautiful and well liked Cottageville farm in Doylestown, hosted by Mr. Gjoko Ruzio until 2011, when Mr. & Mrs. Peter & Peri Stampfl bought the farm.
- we were fortunate to continue our celebrations with the Stampfl family until 2016 and our Council urge all members to come up with a place where we could continue to celebrate our tradition.
- Bucks County was the area we celebrated for 18 years and it was time to ease traveling for non-PA residents. The Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum in Lambertville offered a great place for 2017 to hopefully start a new tradition.
- Since there were multiple choices after the Doylestown tradition we checked out the Vereinigung Erzgebirge in Warminster in 2018 to see what preference our members and guests would have for future celebrations. The bonfire is a required feature and it was getting harder to find places with that offering.
- we continued our celebrations at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum in 2019 and despite the COVID-19 also gather there, with a smaller crowd, in 2020 adhering to the local guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. We still enjoyed the bonfire and the lampion parade. Insurance and Liability issues arose and we choose to find an alternate location, preferable in the western part of Philadelphia.
- Luckily and through a serious effort our President found and proposed the Arasapha farm in Glen Mills, PA. We inspected the new venue and found it to be a perfect place for the 2021 First of August celebration. The weather was perfect and the local resident members and guests took advantage of a shorter ride.
RSVP for the next Swiss National Day on our calendar.