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.
Just for fun.... I thought I'd list a few facts about Switzerland that you might wish to share with your kids. August 1st, Switzerland's National Day is right around the corner, so get you Cervelat sausages and candle lampions ready and check out the nearest bomfire to celebrate the Swiss style! ;)
- Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity in 1905, when he was working as a patent clerk in Bern.
- Swiss Guards protect the Pope at the Vatican.
- The flag of Vatican, is the only other square flag, apart from Switzerland's.
- The flag of the Red Cross is the flag of Switzerland with the colours inverted.
- The famous pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis are based in Switzerland.
- The Swiss are world-wide leaders in private banking or asset management for individuals. UBS and Credit Suisse are among the leading banks.
- Housing is expensive, only about one-third of Swiss population live in their own house.
- The Swiss franc is among the world's most stable currencies.
- Switzerland is one of the world's largest watch manufacturers.
- Apart from luxury brands, Switzerland is also known for the world's best selling plastic watch, the Swatch.
- Victorinox, the manufacturer of the famous Swiss army knife, was founded in 1884.
- Nestlé, founded by Swiss Henri Nestle, is the biggest food company in the world.
- Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy, after Sweden
- 60% of Switzerland's electricity is produced by hydroelectric power.
- Swiss women were the last in Europe to get the vote (apart from Liechtenstein). It was only in 1971 that the male electorate agreed to allow them voting rights at federal level.
- Some 400,000 Swiss emigrated between 1850 and 1914 to North and South America, and founded Swiss colonies. Bern has 26 towns & villages named after it in the US.
- Switzerland leads the world in chocolate consumption. It is said that an average Swiss eats 23lbs of chocolate annually.