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SWISS NATIONAL DAY

Where are fireworks banned on Swiss National Day and where are they permitted?

Swiss National Day this Monday will look a little different because of fireworks bans in many locations, but traditional displays will go ahead in some areas.

Where are fireworks banned on Swiss National Day and where are they permitted?
Swiss National Day this Monday will look a little different because of fireworks bans in many locations. Photo by Yiran Yang on Unsplash

Due to high temperatures and persisting drought, a number of cantons and municipalities have banned the traditional fireworks on their territory, extending the ban to open fires as well.

Certain Zurich municipalities have prohibited this practice as well, while further cantons earlier indicated they may also prohibit fireworks should they be unsafe. 

As such, private fireworks displays have been ruled out in many parts of the country and public celebrations are also affected.

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Of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, some have issued total bans on open-air fires, some have issued bans covering parts of the canton, some are only permitting fires at Feuerstelle (campfire-style open-air fire pits), and some have only banned fires in forest areas.

Further below, you can see a list of locations where public fireworks displays are expected to go ahead as things stand.

Total bans

Geneva, Vaud, Freiburg, Valais, Ticino

Ban in parts of canton

Graubünden

Open fires restricted to Feuerstelle

Luzern, Zug, Schwyz, Nidwalden, Obwalden

Ban in forest areas

Neuchâtel, Jura, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Solothurn, Aargau, Zurich, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Glarus, Uri, Schaffhausen

Swiss residents whose canton or commune has introduced a ban have been notified with a flyer deposited in their mailbox.

Fines for non-compliance with this regulation range between 100 and 20,000 francs, depending on the severity of the violation and the canton or municipality where the infraction takes place.

At the current time, the following locations are still planning to go ahead with public fireworks displays, according to media Watson.

Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Schaffhausen; Lungern, Obwalden; Basel, Basel-Stadt; Murten, Freiburg; Stäfa, Zurich; Brunnen, Schwyz; Samnaun, Graubünden.

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For members

SWISS NATIONAL DAY

Why most of the country will celebrate without fireworks this Swiss National Day

The night sky on Swiss National Day this Monday will look a little different this year in much of Switzerland. Here’s why.

Why most of the country will celebrate without fireworks this Swiss National Day

Swiss National Day, which takes place on August 1st,  brings the country together around the shared love of setting bonfires ablaze while lighting up the night sky with explosions. 

In 2022 however, these traditional celebrations have been banned across much of the country. 

READ MORE: Ten brilliant ways to celebrate Swiss National Day

Why are bonfires and fireworks banned this Swiss National Day? 

Due to high temperatures and persisting drought, a number of cantons and municipalities have banned the traditional fireworks on their territory, extending the ban to open fires as well.

Among them are, to date, Graubünden, Ticino, Thurgau, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, Uri, Glarus, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, and Fribourg.

Certain Zurich municipalities have prohibited this practice as well, while further cantons have indicated they may also prohibit fireworks should they be unsafe. 

If your canton or commune has introduced such bans you have been notified with a flyer deposited in your mailbox.

Fines for non-compliance with this regulation range between 100 and 20,000 francs, depending on the severity of the violation and the canton or municipality where the infraction takes place.

Why is fire so important to the Swiss on August 1st?

Fire has a strong association with tradition in Switzerland – and particularly with Swiss National Day. On August 1st in the dark of the night, children from each town or village form a procession and walk through the streets carrying lit paper lanterns.

While bonfires are a clear cultural tradition, depending on who you ask there are a variety of reasons for why this has become so popular. 

READ MORE: Why Switzerland celebrates its National Day with bonfires and brunch

The bonfire predates Swiss National Day – and some believe it predates Switzerland itself, with bonfires being a Christian adoption of previous midsummer traditions. 

According to Switzerland Tourism, “bonfires, mainly on hills and other elevated spots, commemorate the expulsion of foreign bailiffs in the 14th century, the news of which were spread in this manner in those days.”

Germany’s Südkurier newspaper – which hails from the neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg – sees it a little differently, writing that the tradition goes back to the 15th century, when bonfires were used to warn neighbouring towns and villages of the incursion of enemy troops. 

The Luzerner Zeitung sees it relatively similarly, saying that bonfires were the easiest means of communication and would carry a variety of messages. 

Over time, the notion of lighting fires to warn and communicate with neighbouring communities became a symbol of Swiss unity – and have retained their place to the modern day. 

When did Switzerland first celebrate its birthday?

On Sunday, August 1st, Switzerland will be 731 years old, but it didn’t actually first celebrate its birthday until 1891.

It may be that Helvetians of that time had too much on their plate creating the new state and ensuring their autonomy to throw elaborate birthday parties.

‘Sister republics’: The US Constitution’s surprising Swiss origins

Be it as it may, that first celebration was intended as a one-off event to commemorate the nation’s 600 anniversary. It was revived as an annual event in 1899 and became an official public holiday in 1994. 

The decision to make the day a holiday was made in the most Swiss way possible – a referendum. 

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