Swiss National Day

Independence Day is obviously not a thing over here, so we missed our traditional cookout and fireworks extravaganza this year.

But not really.  We just had to wait another month for Swiss National Day. The Swiss do it big for national holidays; pretty much everything closes down, even more so than a regular old Sunday. Basel-Stadt has its Swiss National Day celebration on July 31st, so we headed to Marktplatz after Andy got off work that day to see what was up.

They had a (very small) carnival: a carousel, a giant slide, and a game or two. G cared not for the games, but she was all in for the carousel and the slide.

“I’m doing work!”

She climbed up the ladder and then decided she didn’t want to go down the slide. I knew she would like it if she tried it, so I told her I couldn’t come get her because I was too big and that she couldn’t go back down the ladder because of the other kids. I was right; she liked it!

We dragged her away from the carnival for a little while to see what else we could find and the answer was something else she loved, too:


They were large.

The bubble man needed to take a break, so we took the opportunity to walk towards the river to see what else was going on.

I immediately regretted, and still regret, not buying one of these drinks. Because other than this, it was pretty much just beer and soda.

Totally outside of her normal character, G refused to dance to this music.

Longship race (I think).

G saw a picture of a cotton candy and said, “What is THAT? I want one!” We are pushovers and let her have one.

She declared it too fluffy and sticky and didn’t want to finish it. (She also didn’t want us to finish it, but that was too bad.)

On the way back to Marktplatz to get some dinner, a lady handed me a rose. I, in turn, gave it to G. She brought it home on the bus and left it in the fountain near the bus stop (and was then disappointed when it wasn’t still there the next day).

We couldn’t get dinner before having another turn on the carousel.

Captain G with First Mate Deda.

I mostly just wanted to be able to laugh at the sign for the bathroom again.

As we finished up eating on the stairs (all the tables were full), the bubble man came and set up right in front of us.

Bubble inception.

We watched G chase and pop bubbles, tried to keep her from stepping on the extra set of bubble wands soaking in the bubble solution, and enjoyed the Dixieland band singing in English (which seems like such an odd choice for a Swiss celebration). Then it was time to head home.

Look at that sassy stance.

Fireworks are also a part of the Swiss National Day celebration, but due to the long days, the display doesn’t start until 11 PM and then it lasts 25 minutes!  Then we would’ve had to get on the tram and the bus and then walk home… No thanks. We headed home fairly early. We could hear some of the official show once it started, but the bigger problem (for both G and Ziggy) was the people doing fireworks on the Birs right by our apartment. Fireworks (like… real, actually big, loud, and impressive fireworks) are apparently legal here for the approved holidays (Swiss National Day and New Year’s), so we were treated to quite the noisy evening with an upset dog and a child who couldn’t get to sleep. I was none too pleased!

(And then Kanton Basel-Landschaft had their Swiss National Day fireworks show on the evening of the 1st, so we got to do it all over again!)

The holiday very much reminded me of Independence Day, even beyond the fireworks and the fact that it’s celebrated in the middle of summer. For weeks prior to the holiday, the grocery stores had Swiss and kantonal flags for sale; we picked up a Swiss and a Baselland flag which are now hanging in G’s room. Careful viewers might have caught a glimpse of them in the YouTube video of our furnished apartment.

The symbol on the left is for Basel-Stadt and the one on the right is for Baselland.

And for about a week before the celebration, fireworks stands popped up for people to buy their goodies. You can apparently buy them some places year-round, but they’re much easier to get around the holidays. The very dry conditions we were experiencing in the middle of the summer threatened to put a stop to fireworks, but it didn’t happen.  (There were signs by the Birs saying no open flames, etc., but the authorities definitely didn’t stop anyone from shooting off fireworks on/around Swiss National Day.)

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