A country that was achieved through a “victorious challenge to the impossible”, Switzerland, due to its orography and the mountain isolation of many of its residents, retains an extraordinary attachment to traditions, to which tourist exploitation is no stranger. Many of the popular rites revolve around the cycle of life and concern events such as birth, marriage, death; others to religious celebrations such as Advent, Lent, Easter, All Saints’ Day or Christmas which sees the streets and squares of many cities filled with typical markets while churches and theaters echo the sounds of Christmas choirs in each of the four official languages; still others to the appointments connected with the seasons and the work of the earth, such as the harvest or the grape harvest. For the shepherds it was tradition, until recently, go up to the mountain pastures and ride down on their cows (richly decorated and with heavy cowbells around their necks) wearing the colorful traditional costumes. Among the many festivals, those of Mariastein, who on New Year’s Eve see pilgrims arriving by the thousands. In the Lötschental, the day of Corpus Domini parade the “grenadiers of the Good God”. The “hunt for St. Nicholas” in Zurich is curious, where the saint is chased through the streets of the villages. In Mendrisio, famous, by the light of the torches, the Easter representation of the Passion of Christ. The feast of the Ascension is particularly popular in the Grisons. Typically Swiss festivities are those of the Alpine horn players and that of the Banderese, or flag flyers. Patriotic or pagan festivals are celebrated with the same vivacity as religious ones. To remember those of the fires of March and that of the Easter eggs, in which you compete to break those of your opponents. Carnival is very lively, wherever it is celebrated, in Bellinzona, Locarno, Ascona and Lugano. The Abbaye is famous in the canton of Vaud, a party where you are admitted by invitation, paying a high participation fee, with the right to pass on the privilege from father to son.
According to Ehistorylib, the Abbaye opens with a shooting competition held on the first day, while on the second and third religious rites are celebrated, speeches are listened to, the winners of the shooting competitions are celebrated and feasted. The winegrowers’ festivals of the cantons of Vaud, Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, Valais, Lugano and Vevey are beautiful, with costumed processions, songs and dances. The Swiss musical tradition brings to mind popular music, characterized by specific instruments, such as above all the Yodel (vocalized song) and the Alphorn (mountain horn), but also the Schwyzerörgeli (a variant of the accordion), the Hackbrett (psalter) and the Trümpi (harp), all evoking the sounds and dances of mountain people. But neither the Yodel nor the Alphorn are native to this country: the first Pole from the Stone Age, has sneaked into Switzerland as a means of both long-distance communication and cattle call; the second, originally from northern Asia, arrived in Europe with the nomadic tribes. In addition, bands and philharmonic societies are widespread in Switzerland. Among the most important of them, whose foundation dates back to the nineteenth century, are the Civic Philharmonic of Lugano, the City Music of Chiasso, the City Music of Locarno, the Airolese Philharmonic, the Ligornetto Philharmonic, the Tremona Philharmonic Society, the Association Switzerland of Bande, Febati (Federation of Ticinesi Bands and others).
Copper craftsmanship is very widespread, wrought iron and brass. The carved and inlaid wooden articles are of a high standard, the furniture from Graubünden and the monstrous masks from the Lötschental are famous. If St. Gallen is the capital of lace, from St. Gallen to Berneck, to Winterthur, to Aargau the potters triumph. But when we say “made in Switzerland” we speak par excellence of watches, the pride of the country, a long-lasting tradition with a history rich in anecdotes (was of Swiss nationality Abraham-Louis Breguet – 1747-1823 – considered the best watchmaker of all time), absolute prestige of Swiss products all over the world and beyond: Speedmaster, the famous Omega chronograph, is the only watch ever to be on the Moon, where it arrived in 1969, on the wrist of astronaut Buzz Aldrin during his short walk on the lunar soil. The NASA he had chosen it among many “competitors” all subjected to rigorous tests. § Swiss cuisine is as varied as the languages and traditions of the country: each canton has its own peculiarities even in the kitchen. The “culinary charm” of the neighboring regions also increases the multiplicity of proposals by adding the flavors of Lombardy, Trentino, France and so on, depending on the territory in question. This does not detract from the typical Swiss dishes and products, such as cheese and chocolate, which have made the Swiss table famous. The first references to Swiss cheese date back to the century. I d. C., when Pliny the Elder mentioned the Caseus Helveticus, however, destined to become famous only after the century. XV. It was then, in fact, that the Swiss began to use the rennet technique, which is essential to preserve the cheese in large quantities and for long periods. In the sec. XVII, Swiss cheese, now sold throughout Europe, had become a valuable bargaining chip.
From there it was a short step to “exporting” the cheesemakers too: some landed in Russia and Eastern Europe, others in various European countries, still others overseas where many thousands of emigrants arrived (especially in the 19th century in the United States) experts in dairy processing. Even now, the Swiss government helps developing countries by providing advice and practical subsidies that have cheese production as their goal. For chocolate, on the other hand, the Swiss tradition is more recent: Although the Swiss are the world’s largest consumers and producers of chocolate, the first chocolate factory was founded in 1750 near Bern by two Italians. Only in 1828, however, when a Dutch patented a new hydraulic press that made it possible to switch from the chocolate drink to the solid form (forerunner of today’s bars), chocolate really fascinated the Swiss. Among the most famous dishes we remember: the raclette, fondue and bernerplatte. The raclette is a dish made with vallese bagnes, a soft cheese, browned, softened and sprinkled with pepper with the addition of potatoes, peppers and pickled onions. The fondue is a national dish, a mixture of grated cheese, garlic, nutmeg and kirsch, did cook slowly with white wine. The bernerplatte is instead a dish based on ribs, salted shoulder, salami, lard and ham drowned in sauerkraut and beans with a side of boiled potatoes. Other characteristic meat dishes are kalbfilet (veal fillet), rindfilet (fillet of beef), Schweinschnitzel (pork cutlet), Lederpiessli (grilled liver), while the tradition of fish serves mainly trout alla mugnaia and almonds, as well as perch. All washed down with splendid wines such as fendant, dôle and generous aigle, not to mention the most famous, given the remarkable enological activity of the country, whose viticultural tradition, especially in the Canton of Ticino, has very ancient origins, dating back to the era of the Gauls. Finally, the Rivella should not be forgotten, a drink that has become a national symbol, produced by a family-run company founded in 1952 by Robert Barth, who still runs it today.