Thursday, August 02, 2012

Alp Horns, Cow Bells And Yodelling

The 1st of August was the Swiss National Holiday. All across Switzerland people celebrated the founding of the Helvetic Confederation. Zurich, which usually is adorned by Swiss flags anyway, showed its national and cantonal colours even more proudly yesterday.

The 26 cantons of Zurich represented in the parade.

A parade made its way along the Bahnhofstrasse, showcasing stereotypical Swiss types – donning traditional dress and brandishing cow bells and alp horns. Aesthetically, the parade was beautiful indeed, although acoustically less so - a brash mix of trumpets and eccentric yodelling.

Alp horns are quite unwieldy instruments.

At the end of the parade, a stage, equipped with the biggest flag I have ever seen in my life, was the scene of a speech, a rifle-fire salute, flag juggling, alp horn playing and yodelling extravaganza. With so many national symbols, I thought it might have been uncomfortable, as a foreigner, being there. Thankfully, the event was completely free of politics and tourists were very much made to feel welcome.

The stage at Bürkliplatz.

The Swiss are quite keen when it comes to fireworks. I can only really make a comparison to the 5th November in the UK (Guy Fawkes night), but there were much more explosions to be heard over the skies of Zurich last night than I've ever heard back at home. Although this might have something to do with the cheap price of fireworks – and the ease of access to them here – despite the earlier, not-unconcerning exploits a Swiss friend told me he got up to as a teenager...

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