Lausanne, all ready for the 1st of August (18th July 2014)
Foreigners usually tend to associate Switzerland with chocolate, mountains, cows, banks and watches. However, only the mountains and the cows have been around respectively for millions and hundreds (I am not sure about thousands) of years. Banking secrecy (which is almost dead – its proper demise is to take place in less than two years) is not even a hundred years old; Swiss chocolates and watches (as distinct or reputed products of this country) can boast a little more than that, i.e. over a century. When set against the oldest artefacts found near my home town (Lausanne), i.e. pottery and menhirs, both dated to 4,500 BC, or against the oldest Swiss city, Chur, claimed to be some 5,000 years old (and nothing to say about the oldest representation of a female form to have been found in this country, maybe as old as 15,000 years), well one can then wonder how really representative of Switzerland these products are (from a multi-secular perspective, that is).
Two days ago, I came across an article about a new database released by the Federal Office of Topography, called ‘swissNAMES3D’, which makes available for consultation some 300,000 place names. I find toponyms (place names) fascinating because they reveal valuable information about places, ‘core’ information I would be tempted to say – see, for instance my post on the etymology of Lausanne (or this post which I have yet to write about the name of a Celtic god I discovered to be the name of a place displayed as the end stop of a bus line when I went to Switzerland’s Celtic heartland in April). The same holds true for myths, legends, folk tales or even traditions which have withstood the test of time (click here for one such example or look up Lugnasad and then the date of Switzerland’s National Day and draw your own conclusion).
To me there is no doubt that century-old buildings are infused with a sense of history and meaning. We simply need to approach these places with humility as well as with an open mind. Yesterday, as I was going through a book on places in Switzerland which are claimed to be supercharged energy-wise (remember that I am on holiday now), I realised that on most of these places churches had been erected centuries ago (very often replacing older, non-Christian structures) and that most of these sites are located close to mountains and have (or had) water nearby. So the essence of Switzerland must have to do with mountains and water. Interesting, no?
Probably more about this (together with full references) in a week’s time on my ‘other’ blog (i.e. myfirstnamesurname.ch/blog/blog.html)