Swiss national day goes off with a bang
Morven McLean · 2 Aug 2013, 09:07
Published: 02 Aug 2013 09:07 GMT+02:00
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Several thousand people took advantage of an open-doors event to see inside the Federal Palace in Bern – the home of the country’s parliament.
There were long queues for admittance. “The demand was huge; it was quite impressive,” the president of the Council of States, Filippo Lombardi, told the Swiss news agency SDA.
For many the day began with a traditional brunch on a Swiss farm – almost 400 farm families participated in the event, offering bread, cheese, eggs and rösti from 9am.
As ever on the country’s birthday patriots gathered on the Rütli meadow in central Switzerland – the birthplace of the Swiss Confederation – to mark the event and listen to speeches.
This year over 400 football players – many of them children – were invited the by organisers and a small football pitch was constructed on the meadow.
Guest speaker, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, made use of the football analogy to call for a greater team spirit in the country, saying team work could replace unnecessary rules and open up opportunities.
Schneider-Ammann said not everything could be solved by rules, which limited personal initiative and responsibility.
In his speech broadcast on radio and television, President Ueli Maurer took a militant line, calling on the Swiss to defend their freedom and independence in the face of international pressure.
Fireworks displays rounded off the day of celebration across the country. In Basel around 120,000 people are estimated to have watched a display on the Rhine River.
The event began at 11pm with fireworks being launched from two boats anchored between bridges.