We approached the supermarket and there was something comletely different outside. Thre was a little hut with fireworks and swiss flags. Everything was decorated Swiss style. There were even plastic holders with candles with a Swiss Cross. Of course it will soon be 1st August, the Swiss equivalent to 4th July and 14th June, the Swiss National Day.
There are only a few days to go and our cat will hide all night beneath the bed from the bangs and light effects of celerating Switzerland. The hills (mountains) will be alive with the crackle of bonfires. If you happen to take a flight on 1st August and pass over Switzerland, do not worry. We are not under attack, and defending ourselves with explosions. Most mountains have their own little fire to show that we are celebrating. No-one really knows why it happens on 1st August.
Many years ago Switzerland was a collection of little villages in between the mountains, because it was the best place to build, everything else was on a slope and you at least found some flat places where you could complete your chalets without falling down the slopes. The mountains were left to the cows, they could climb better and found more grass at the top.
The villages grew and people wanted to see what it was like on the other side of the mountains. One evening three guys from different villages met in the valley called Swiss, and lit a fire because there was still some wood laying round from building wooden chalets. The crossbows were put on one side, as the men were hungry and no-one really felt like playing the national game of shooting an apple off each other’s head.
Each guy had a Swiss sausage with him. They found some sticks of wood, and so the sausages were pierced and roasted over the fire. Yes our swiss ancestors were genial. Suddenly there was an explosion and a crate if beer appeared. The three guys all spoke with a different accent as they were from different villages, but decided it was time to get together and speak the same language, something like Swiss German. They decided it had been “hell” living their lonely lives in the mountains. There was no “vet” to tend to the cows and the third guy said “ja” and so the country of Helvetia was formed.
When they got home their wives were annoyed at the noise they were making, yodelling and waking the villagers, but when they heard that they were now all living in Helvetia it got very complicated. Hedda found it a stupid name for a country, Vreni was not even sure how to pronounce it and Heidi said they should go and count the cows which would be more sensible that inventing countries. The cows had all scattered over the meadows, frightened of the explosion made by the appearance of the crate of beer from nowhere. It was then Fritzli came home from the village school and said someone had stolen a crate of beer from the local tavern and that it was a real Swizzle, “Er?” said Hedda and Vreni and Heidi both pulled on their platted hair and asked where the crate of beer landed. Fritz said it sounded very much like in Switzerland and so the name was born.
Helvetia still exists but only on the postage stamps and money to keep it all nice and neutral. In the meanwhile Tabby my cat stays under the bed all night whilst the Swiss celebrate by roasting sausages over the fire and empty crates of beer accompanied by the sound of exploding fireworks. Or perhaps it happened differently. No-one really remembers as it all happened more than 500 years ago, it is just tradition.