Culture of Switzerland

Traditionally, Switzerland has not been considered one of the cultural centers of Europe. It is known more for cleanliness, punctuality, discipline and and high degree of consciousness about the environment than for its artistic achievements. But in recent times, its commitment to peace is what has drawn artists looking for a safe haven in which to do their creative work. During the rise of fascism in the 1930s and 1940s a number of German, Austrian and Italian migrated to Switzerland including Thomas Mann, Stefan George, Herman Hesse, and Ignazio Silone.

A multi-cultural nation, Switzerland’s national identity is shaped by a variety of influences including those of German, French and Italian neighbours.

Folk music and dance are popular in Switzerland. While yodeling is usually down in the mountains, there are many other varieties of folk music revolving around patriotic or pastoral themes. The Schuplattler is a lively, dance with rapid sequences of jumping and hopping. Woodcarving and emboridery are also common.

In literature, Switzerland has produced writers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, critic and historian Jacob Burckhardt, Gottfried Keller, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Jeremias Gotthelf and Charles Ferdinand Ramuz. Hermann Hesse and Carl Spitteler both won a Nobel Prize for their works.

Winter sports are obviously very popular in this mountainous country. Apart from skiing and mountaineering, Swiss-style wrestling (Schwingen) is also popular in rural areas. Sunday-morning shooting sessions and Hornussen (a kind of Alpine baseball) are other traditional Swiss sports. Sports are developed and you can take your pick from tennis, golf, ice hockey, football (soccer) basketball, handball, gliding, paragliding, sailing, swimming, volleyball , floorball, mountain biking and hiking.


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