Previous National Day events:
National Day 2018
On 1 August 2018, over 1600 people attended the Swiss Federal Day celebrations on the Rütli. In his ceremonial address, Federal President Alain Berset emphasized the importance of compromise as an expression of political culture. The compromise is greater than the lowest common denominator, in the compromise would win both sides, and the compromise would often lead to sustainable solutions.
For this year’s ceremony, the Swiss Society for the Common Good (SSCG), which manages the Rütli, invited around 300 individuals from organizations committed to social unity and solidarity nationwide: between the various linguistic regions and in the integration of different cultures and religions, the poor and the handicapped. As in previous years, more than one hundred accredited diplomats based either in Bern or Geneva enjoyed the celebrations on the Rütli.
Along with the current text of the Swiss national anthem, participants also sang the proposed new anthem, “White cross on a red background”, in both words and sign language. Yodeller MISS HELVETIA Barbara Klossner and alpenhorn virtuoso Lisa Stoll provided musical accompaniment to the National Day celebrations. As a token of thanks and a surprise for the Federal President, who is a native of Fribourg, Lisa Stoll performed the melody “Le Ranz des Vaches”, traditionally played on the alpenhorn by Swiss herdsmen.
President Berset opened the “Musée Grütli”. Until the end of 2019 the new Museum will be hosting “1001 Home – a borderline experience” an exhibition designed by the Stapferhaus Lenzburg.
National Day 2017
National Day celebrations at the Rütli on 1 August 2017
At the National Day celebrations on the Rütli, Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr delighted the 1300 guests with a thought-provoking address. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of Pro Senectute, spoke about the challenges facing the organization, which was founded in 1917 by the SSCG. Crossbow world champion Joël Brüschweiler managed to hit not only the legendary apple from ten metres but also a cherry. And alphorn virtuoso Enrico Lenzin accompanied MISS HELVETIA Barbara Klossner, who sang the new national anthem.
With temperatures exceeding 30° Celsius, the approximately 1300 guests sought shade under parasols, trees and hats. The atmosphere was already livening up by midday, when performers encouraged the audience to join in with the yodelling, flag-swinging and “Talerschwingen”. Mike McCardell, the leaseholder of the Rütli meadow, and his team served guests with traditional Swiss fare, such as Alpine macaroni, pasta and apple sauce and a wide choice of sausages.
The guests included 120 diplomats from over 30 countries, who represent their countries in Switzerland or at the UN office in Geneva.
This year, the SSCG invited Pro Senectute, of which it is the founder, as a partner organization to the National Day celebrations. Pro Senectute is the largest official body in Switzerland to offer advice and services for the aged and is celebrating its centenary. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who took up her role as President of Pro Senectute Switzerland in April, talked about the organization’s past and future challenges. As the new President explained: “An exchange between the generations is valuable for everyone and creates experiences money cannot buy. The more we discuss things with other age groups, the better we understand each other. Each of us has a responsibility for helping to maintain tolerance and understanding and for seeking contact with younger or older persons outside of our own families. If we bear this in mind, we will all benefit in the future from the mutual solidarity of a multi-generational society.”
Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr, who has served as chief of staff of the Federal Council since 1 January 2016, entertained guests with his witty and thought-provoking address. He said: “We would have every reason to be coolly self-assured. Not because we’re the chosen ones, unusually industrious or particularly smart. Not because we’re different, but because we do certain things in different ways. We have a different form of government, we have different kinds of organization and we take a different approach to development. Other states retain their constitutions and regularly change their governments. We keep our government and regularly change our constitution. And that’s a crucial difference! But we won’t find any solution in our constitution to the global refugee problem. And no initiative can guarantee that the glaciers won’t melt. No referendum can protect us if the global economy suddenly takes a dive. Things have not become easier, but more complex. The 1st of August is an opportunity to remind ourselves that new problems exist, that we need to do some serious rethinking and that we will probably have to come up with some new answers.”
Between the various addresses, alphorn virtuoso and percussionist Enrico Lenzin, yodeller MISS HELVETIA Barbara Klossner and crossbow world champion Joël Brüschweiler gave the audience a demonstration of their musical and sporting talents. Klossner and Lenzin performed together to give us a rousing version of the proposed new Swiss national anthem, while a dozen ladies of honour, who will take part in the Unspunnen Festival at Interlaken in August, presented the new Interlaken Edelweiss costume designed by Malou Balmer. Chairman of the organizing committee Ueli Bettler encouraged guests to pay a visit to the Unspunnen Festival, where the Swiss Youth Choir will perform the national anthem with its new lyrics at the official ceremony.
National Day 2016
Red Cross celebrates Swiss National Day on the Rütli
The SSCG and the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) are jointly organizing this year’s National Day celebrations on the Rütli on 1 August. In 2016, the SRC celebrates its 150th jubilee. For the first time ever, the formal address will be delivered by a personality from Italian-speaking Switzerland: Carla del Ponte.
“It’s terrific that we’re celebrating National Day on the Rütli with the Swiss Red Cross,” says SSCG President Jean-Daniel Gerber. The president of the SRC, which also celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, is former SSCG President and ex-Federal Chancellor Annemarie Huber-Hotz. On 1 August, the SRC will give a demonstration of one of its valuable services live on the Rütli. The organization also shares much in common with the SSCG in its encouragement of voluntary work. The SRC has no fewer than 73,000 volunteer staff.
Commenting on the event, Jean-Daniel Gerber said, “I’m also extremely pleased about the choice of this year’s speaker.” As early as two years ago, the SSCG’s Rütli committee had planned to invite a personality from Italian-speaking Switzerland to give the formal address on the country’s National Day. Carla del Ponte was Federal Public Prosecutor in Switzerland (1994–1998) and Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia (1999-2007) and genocide in Rwanda (1999-2003) before her appointment as Swiss Ambassador to Argentina (2008-2011).
The SSCG saved the Rütli from purchase for a hotel complex in 1858 before presenting the legend-steeped piece of land to the Swiss Federation in 1860. Since then, it has been in charge of administering the “cradle” of the Confederation, as it is known. The SSCG has organized the National Day celebrations on the Rütli since 1891 and for the past five years has done so in cooperation with some other body that plays a central role in Swiss civil society. In 2011, the Swiss Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired celebrated its 100th jubilee on the Rütli, and in 2012, Pro Juventute did the same. In 2013, it was the turn of the Swiss Football Federation and in 2014, the Jungwacht Blauring, Switzerland’s second-largest young people’s association. Last year, the “Gästival” (or Guestival) celebrated 200 years of tourism in Central Switzerland. Next year, Pro Senectute will take over the Rütli to celebrate its first century. The SSCG always invites diplomatic envoys and ambassadors from countries accredited in Berne and Geneva to the Rütli for the National Day celebrations. But in practice, anyone is welcome to attend. Folk music, alphorns and flag throwing guarantee a rich and varied programme in this unique setting on 1 August.
National Day 2015
National Day 2015 address was given by Simonetta Sommaruga
President Simonetta Sommaruga gave the Swiss National Day commemorative speech on the Rütli on 1 August. The 2015 celebrations took the theme of “hospitality”. This year’s programme for the National Day event was being created by the Schwiss Society for the Common Good (SSCG) in collaboration with the organizers of “Gästival – 200 Jahre Gastfreundschaft Zentralschweiz” (“Guestival – 200 years of hospitality in Central Switzerland”). The Swiss President brought a surprise guest of her own to the Rütli – the sixteen year old Debora Ticli. Some months ago, the young woman had invited the Swiss President as a guest to her school near Berne.
National Day 2014
The 2014 National Day on the Rütli focused on the theme of Young People. Invited guests included the “Jungwacht Blauring” youth group. The official speaker was the president of the Schweizerische Gewerbeverband (Swiss Small Business Association), Jean-François Rime. Further information can be found in the press release.
List of National Day partner organizations
Since 2011, the SSPG has organized each National Day in conjunction with a leading partner organization. Organizations with an important anniversary coming up or which would like to use the National Day to provide a special experience for their members are welcome to register their interest with the SSPG.
2020: Swiss Wrestling Association
2019: Swiss Firefighter Association (150 years) and Association of Swiss Communes (“Year of militia work”)
2018: 70 organizations committed to social cohesion in Switzerland.
2017: 100-year anniversary of Pro Senectute (welfare organization for the elderly)
2016: 150-year anniversary of the Swiss Red Cross
2015: Gästival (“Guestival” – 200 years hospitality in Central Switzerland
2014: Jungwacht Blauring (youth organization)
2013: Schweizerischer Fussballverband (Swiss Football Association) – Alex Miescher, General Secretary
2012: Pro Juventute (child welfare charity) – centenary year
2011: Schweizerischer Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband SBV (Swiss Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired) – centenary year
List of official speakers
Since the late 1940s, the official National Day address on the Rütli has always been given by a leading Swiss personality. Until 2005, the speakers tended to come from the central Swiss canton but since then efforts have been stepped up to promote a more inclusive all-Swiss, multilingual approach. 1975 saw the first address given by a woman. The official address will have been given by the Swiss Federal President three times since 2005.
1949 Alfred Blunschy, Schwyz
1950 Gustav Muheim, member of the Council of States and the SSPG Rütli Commission
1951 Emil Landolt, SSPG president and Mayor of Zurich; and Mayor Fässler of Le Locle
1952 R. Sidler, Schwyz; and H. Villiger, Erstfeld, Cantonal Council member
1953 W. Kurzmeyer, Cantonal Council member, Lucerne; and army chaplain Louis de Momtmollin, Môtiers
1954 J. Hess, Engelberg, director of education and member of the SSPG Rütli Commission
1955 A. Käch, Chairman of Cantonal Council, Lucerne
1956 G. Odermatt, Sarnen, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1957 E. Z’Graggen, Hergiswil, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1958 Emil Landolt, SSPG President and Mayor of Zurich
1959 Alfred Weber, Altdorf, Member of Cantonal Council
1960 Josef Isenschmied, Chairman of Cantonal Council, Lucerne
1961 Fritz Husi, Einsiedeln, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1962 Remigi Blättler, Hergiswil, Nidwalden, Member and Chairman of Cantonal Council
1963 Hans Gasser, Lungern, Obwalden, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1964 Emil Wipfli, Erstfeld, Member of the Council of States
1965 Prof. Paul Kramer, Schwyz
1966 Alfred Gräni, Member and Chairman of Nidwalden Cantonal Council
1967 Hans Ming, Sarnen, former Member of the National Council and member of the SSPG Rütli Commission
1968 Xaver Leu, Lu, Member of the Council of States
1969 Alois ab Yberg, Schwyz, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1970 Hermann Sigrist, Flüelen, Uri, Member of Cantonal Council
1971 August Keiser, Hergiswil, Nidwalden, Member of Cantonal Council
1972 Oskar Imfeld, Lungern, Obwalden, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1973 Albert Krummenacher, Department of Military and Police, Lucerne, Member of Cantonal Council
1974 Xaver Reichmutz, Schwyz, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1975 Hildegard Simmen-Schmid, Altdorf, Member of Cantonal Parliament
1976 German Murer, Beckenried, Nidwalden, Deputy Chairman of Cantonal Council, Beckenried, Nidwalden
1977 Alfred von Ah, Giswil, Obwalden, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1978 Peter Knüsel, Meggen Lucerne, Member of Cantonal Council
1979 Rudolf Sidler, Schwyz, Chairman of Cantonal Council
1980 Hansheiri Dahinden, Member of Cantonal Council, Chairman of Canton of Uri Department of Justice
1981 Bruno Geiser, Chairman of Canton of Nidwalden Department of Justice, Ennetmoos, Nidwalden
1982 Hans Hess, Sarnen, Obwalden, Member of Cantonal Council
1983 Hans Rudolf Meyer, Mayor of Lucerne
1984 Hans Rudolf Meyer, Mayor of Lucerne
1985 Iwan Rickenbacher, Mayor of Schwyz
1986 Franz Steinegger, Altdorf, Member of the National Council, lawyer and notary
1987 Joseph Iten, Member of the National Council, Hergiswil
1988 Alexander Höchli, Engelberg, Deputy Chairman of Obwalden Cantonal Council
1989 Robert Bühler, Chairman of Lucerne Cantonal Council and Member of Council of Sates
1990 Joseph Wiget, National Archivist, Schwyz
1991 Ulrich Bremi, President of the National Council (700-year anniversary of confederation)
1992 Hansruedi Stadler, Chairman of Cantonal Council, Altdorf
1993 Eduard Engelberber, Deputy Chairman of Cantonal Council, Stans
1994 Niklaus Küchler, Sarnen, Member of the Council of States
1995 Josy Meier, Lucerne, Member of the Council of States
1996 Alberik Ziegler, Uri
1997 Tony Dettling, Schwyz
1998 Edi Engelberger, Stans, Nidwalden, member of the SSPG Rütli Commission
1999 Tony Röthlin, Obwalden
2000 Kaspar Villiger, Member of the Federal Council
2001 Franz Steinegger, Altdorf, Uri, former Member of the National Council
2002 Bruno Frick, Einsiedeln, Schwyz
2003 Edi Engelberger, Stans, Nidwalden, member of the SSPG Rütli Commission
2005 Federal President Samuel Schmid
2006 Markus Rauh
2007 Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey and National Council President Christine Egerszegi
2008 Josef Dittli, Altdorf UR, Member of Cantonal Council
2009 Peter von Matt, professor of literature, Männedorf, Zurich
2010 Annemarie Huber-Hotz, SSPG President, Rütli Delegation member, Baar, Zug
2011 Hansheiri Inderkum, Member of the Council of Sates, canton of Uri
2012 Antonio Hodgers, Member of the National Council, canton of Geneva
2013 Johann Schneider-Ammann, Member of the Federal Council
2014 Jean-François Rime, President of the Swiss Small Business Association
2015 Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal President
2016 Carla del Ponte, former federal judge and ambassador of Switzerland
2017 Walter Thurnherr, Chancellor
2018 Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation
2019 Heidi Z’graggen, member of the Cantonal Council of Uri