Independence day for Switzerland and America are over for 2017. Taking a quick look at both, there are lots of similarities but some differences, too.
Both Swiss and Americans celebrate their national holidays. Depending on which day it falls, many people use vacation days to create a bridge for a long weekend. People as well as communities and cities spend lots of money on fireworks. So much for the similarities.
Differences – Barbecues
Depending on the weather, barbecues abound in both countries although what is barbecued can differ greatly. A traditional 4th of July barbecue calls for hamburgers and hot dogs at the very least.
Traditional independence day Swiss barbecues? I’m sure it happens, our family celebrated in the back yard many years. I don’t remember any other barbecues going on in the neighborhood though. The Swiss don’t think much of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Once when we had some relatives over for dinner (not August 1st), we served hamburgers from the grill. They said they had never had that before. I’m not sure if that was good or bad. Still, I was surprised. As far as hot dogs go, although you can buy them here, I have never seen anyone grill one.
The Swiss like their bonfires. I’m not sure if they grill on them or not. I have never seen a bonfire in the States.
Differences – Parades
One large difference are parades. The Swiss are not big on parades, well, they are sort of, but different. The parades in the States are usually non-political theme floats with marching bands. They are proceeded by baton twirlers and a majorette. Sometimes community “stars” also walk or ride in the parade. In America there are many, many 4th of July parades all over the country.
I have never seen an August 1st parade though. Other Swiss parades that come to mind are the fasnacht parades. There each Clique presents their original costumes, masks and floats. There are piccolo players and drummer groups in between. Fasnacht parades come pretty close to American parades. Often times including the TV coverage with the announcers offering tidbits about whatever it is that they are showing.
The other Swiss parade that comes to mind is the “Street Parade”. My guess is that technically this isn’t a parade at all. It’s more like a party with floats playing techno music and many, many costumed people dancing.
On a much smaller scale our neighboring town has a “Pumpkin Night Parade”. This looks like school children walking a specified route, carrying handmade lighted lamps. Sweet, but it is October and has nothing to do with the Swiss independence day, more like Halloween.
So no, the Swiss neither watch nor participate in parades on August 1st.
Differences – Picnics
Generally speaking, although Swiss do picnic, they are different than the American ones. The best 4th of July picnic memory I have was when we, with Ben’s parents were visiting my parents. The community was having a picnic which we went to. There was a band playing John Philip Sousa military and patriotic marches and fireworks after dark. It looked like the whole town was there.
So we packed a picnic, blanket to sit on and drove over. Of course it was within walking distance but we drove anyway. Our picnic was pretty normal as far as I remember. There was cold fried chicken (homemade, not bought), potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, you know, the normal stuff. We didn’t do too much talking because we were sitting too close to the gazebo where the band was playing. You can only say “What???” so many times before you give up trying to talk. The fireworks in the evening were lovely.
The Swiss like to go to the Rütli Meadow in the Canton of Uri, where the independence day began. The president of Switzerland gives a televised speech and I believe many people picnic there, too. Still very different than in America.
Differences – Patriotism
Americans are patriotic, so much so that it is the normal thing to be on July 4th. Everyone hangs out their American flag and patriotic music is everywhere. If the Swiss showed even a fraction of the patriotism that Americans do, that would raise lots of eyebrows. Lots.
Nonetheless Switzerland tries to be patriotic they really do. The grocery stores sell little pie-like desserts with a red topping and a white “+” on it. They also sell little white bread rolls sporting a paper flag on a toothpick. And they sell… wait, I’m running out of examples, sorry.
Fireworks on August 1st
I must admit that firework-shy dogs are not conducive to seeing a lot of fireworks close-up and personal. When our nieces and nephews were young, after we finished our backyard barbecue and it was getting dark, they would light up their sparklers. They didn’t need more than that.
One year we were invited to friends for dinner on August 1st. They live on the foothills of the Jura so we had a nice view of the valley. Dinner included neither “Swiss Rolls” nor anything red with a white cross on it. After we ate, we sat at the edge of their pool and dangled our bare feet in the water. The after-dark-program of fireworks in the valley was great. Having such a magnificent view we saw all the fireworks in many towns and communities. It was all without loud noises or smells that scared the dogs.