Being Swiss… on Swiss National Day

Today is Friday, August 1. Other than the fact that it is Friday, that we can say TGIF, what, might you ask is there to celebrate. Well, two things. First, August 1 is Swiss National Day – our equivalent of your July 4th.

Second, unrelated, in any way other than timing, I am celebrating the first national piece of press on my sisters and I. We are the Polla sisters. And now, the Alchimie Forever sisters. Thank you Vanity Fair.

Perhaps it is indeed all related beyond timing, since we are Swiss. What do you think of when you think of Switzerland? Probably skiing; chocolate; watches; cheese. (If you are thinking about IKEA right about now, you are getting your Sw countries confused…). Here are a few more, perhaps less well knows, typically Swiss traits.

–       We are punctual (maybe because we like watches so much). In Switzerland, being on time means being 5 minutes early. Or, as my Mom always said, “The only way to ever be on time is to always be early.”

–       We cherish “Apero time.” This is our version of “happy hour.” “Apero” being short for aperitif. No beer, no chips. Instead, white wine or champagne, with olives and cheese. At 5 pm on the dot, any day of the week, apero rarely lasts just an hour.

–       We have to introduce ourselves to everyone when arriving at a party; a seated dinner party; a cocktail party; a holiday party… this makes being early or on time particularly desirable, as the rounds of introductions are more manageable when most guests have yet to arrive.

–       We don’t touch our drinks until everyone we are with has a drink. This is true at a bar, at apero, at dinner, and everywhere in between. Only once everyone has their drink do we do cheers, and take our first sip. Anything else would be considered rude.

–       This may in part be caused by the fact that doing cheers is not only an absolute must, but we must look in the eyes while doing it. Why? Well… if you don’t you will be punished with 9 (some say 7) years of bad sex. So don’t ever clink your glass without looking that one person in the eye.

On this special Swiss day, I wish my sisters, and my Swiss family, a particularly happy Friday. And to all of you non-Swiss, TGIF!

To celebrate Swiss National Day, an interview with Christine Sager

August 1 is Swiss National Day. As I am in Las Vegas for Cosmoprof (and there really is nothing Swiss about Las Vegas), I thought it would be nice to speak to someone who understands Switzerland and the special significance of August first. Below, my conversation with Chrisine Sager, the wife of Manuel Sager, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Hudson, Ohio and Syracuse, New York

How long have you been in DC?

Since November 2010… already 9 months.

What is your favorite place in DC?

I haven’t had much time to sight see, but I am always deeply stirred when I go to the monuments around the Reflecting Pool.

What is your favorite place in Switzerland?

I can never name a ‘favorite’ place…there are just too many wonderful spots. I do love Bern, it has everything from a beautiful medieval city center to lovely parks and easy access to recreation.

What is your number one beauty necessity?

I guess that would have to be a great moisturizer, without it one’s skin cannot look its best. I like Alchimie Forever’s Kantic+ intensely nourishing cream.

What is your greatest self-indulgence?

Deep tissue massages for my back and neck.

What do you do to stay physically fit?

I work out three times a week at the gym.

What is the quality you most admire in a man?

A true respect for women.

What is the quality you most admire in a woman?

Selfless care and concern for others.

How will you celebrate Swiss National Day?

First, with the Swiss Club here in DC, of course. Then we depart for Switzerland on the 31st of July, arriving on the 1st of August in Switzerland. There we will celebrate with family. My husband’s nephew has become something of a pyrotechnic and puts together great fireworks shows.

Do you have a favorite Swiss tradition?

I love the very rare occasion when, hiking in the mountains, you suddenly hear a distant beautiful sound echoing through the valleys from a hilltop…someone has carried his/her alp horn all the way up there to enjoy nature’s auditorium for which this instrument was made. I struggle enough getting myself up there, let alone an alp horn.

Do you wear a watch? If yes, which one?

Yes….Omega Consellation.

Which topic could you talk about for days on end, if anyone would listen?

While we were living in London, our work took us to Central Asia…specifically to Turkmenistan and Kirghistan….and I developed a close relationship to some artists there. The lack of hope that so many expressed, led me to found an organization to represent about 25 artists from these countries, by putting on exhibitions and promoting awareness for that region. I would love to do something to help them here in the US as well, but have not yet found the right contacts.

If you could have dinner with 1 person, who would it be?

My husband.

What is your favorite treasured possession?

My glasses (couldn’t do without them) and my Bible.