Over the weekend, we checked out Geneva’s annual Fêtes de Genève–a two-week festival coinciding with Swiss National Day. It felt a bit like county fairs I’ve attended back home, but with a definite Swiss flair. I mean, how cute are these refreshment stands?!
Luckily, the day turned from overcast and drizzly to sunny just in time for the parade, because the Swiss do not delay scheduled events. Marching in the parade were citizens represented from every neighboring village. They proudly showed off whatever variety of flower their farm grew.
The dogs were a big hit! Saint Bernards and Bernese Mountain dogs took center stage midway through the parade, celebrating their history as Alpine rescue dogs. See the brandy barrels?
If you are traveling through Geneva, I’d recommend trying to make it coincide with one of its local events. Geneva to an outsider can definitely feel more cosmopolitan than Swiss, but these events help shed light on its history and its fiercely proud citizens. A bit on Geneva’s history:
First noted in history as a Roman settlement in 58 B.C., Geneva became an important trading town during the Middle Ages. Due to its strategic locale, the city was a target and changed hands several times before eventually establishing itself as an independent republic in 1535. Final independence was gained in 1602 when the people of Geneva squashed an attempted invasion by the Duke of Savoy. Celebration of that day–L’Escalade–takes place every December 11th.
Following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in the mid-1600’s, Geneva became a refuge for persecuted Protestants from throughout Europe. Attracted by the teachings of John Calvin, Geneva’s refugee population exploded as the “Protestant Rome.” In the years following, Geneva attracted artists and philosophers including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Diderot.
On September 12, 1814 Geneva joined the Confederation of Switzerland.
In 1864, Henry Dunant founded the International Red Cross in Geneva and used an inverse of the Swiss flag as its symbol. In 1920 the first convening of the League of Nations took place, followed by the opening of the European headquarters of the United Nations in 1946.
Today, 40% of its residents come from outside of Switzerland, making Geneva the most international city in the world.
Wishing you a lovely day wherever you are…but for now, a few links:
- 20 Surprising Facts About Switzerland (Newly Swissed)
- 10 Facts About the Geneva Convention (Dicon Bewes)
- Protestantism in Switzerland (Musée Protestant)