Recently, I saw a post on Facebook, of this image:

enter image description here

The caption is:

May 26 is celebrated as Science day in Switzerland in honour of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, because on that day, Kalam visited the country

Dr Kalam is an acclaimed scientist, and a former President of India.

I tried to Google for sources, and couldn't find any that were definitely not Indian in origin:

Is this true?

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    The second article you cite claims that Kalam visited CERN on May 26, 2005. One might think this would have been worth a public announcement from CERN, but I found CERN's archive of press releases for 2005 (note there are several pages), and none of them seem to be about Dr. Kalam nor a "Science Day" event. (And no press releases at all are listed for the month of May.) Of course, this is not definitive. May 28, 2015 at 14:00
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    The claim is not quite answerable: it is celebrated by whom in Switzerland? declared by whom? It is nowhere to be found on the Wikipedia's list of Public Holidays in Switzerland, but then again I'd swear up and down that Bacon Day is a real holiday, despite not being included in Wikipedia's U.S. list. May 28, 2015 at 14:48
  • The point being that, while it doesn't seem to be an official Swiss holiday (which is as close to answer as we might get), it may well be celebrated by Dr. Kalam, his friends, and the restaurant in Geneva he ate at that evening. May 28, 2015 at 14:50
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    @Sklivvz who's they? The papers are unlikely to confuse the president of the country with a scientist from the county's biggest enemies.
    – muru
    May 29, 2015 at 3:20
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    @Sklivvz irrelevant. He might be the greatest scientist in Pakistan and there's still no chance that an Indian newspaper would mistake Kalam, who's probably the most famous scientist in India, for Salam. Unless, by some spectacular coincidence, a science day was declared in honour of Dr Salam, and it was declared on the same day that the president of India was to visit, and they were so incredibly tactless as to tell the Indians that they were celebrating a Pakistani on the day the Indian president was visiting, and then proceeded to make a typo in the announcement or missive sent to Indians.
    – muru
    Jun 1, 2015 at 0:35

3 Answers 3


It doesn't look like it. Searching for "Kalam" on http://www.admin.ch (which purports to be the official site of the Swiss government) brings up one English result, "Indian President to visit Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich". It is the press release for President Kalam's visit, dated 17 May 2005, nine days before the date in question. There is no mention of any "Science Day" in that article. Searching in French and German also returns one earlier, shorter press release (translated to each language), which also does not mention "Science Day". Searching the site for "science day" or "May 26" returns nothing. (Searching for "science" returns 250+ results, but since none of them mention Kalam, they are irrelevant.)

Furthermore, Science Day is not an official Swiss holiday. Per Wikipedia, there is only one federal holiday (i.e., declared by the Swiss national government): Swiss National Day, August 1. All other holidays are declared by the individual cantons. Wikipedia's list, which includes the holidays of the cantons, makes no mention of Science Day.

The claim is that Kalam visited CERN, so it might be asserted that the canton of Geneva, where CERN is located, declared the holiday (which would not be a Swiss holiday exactly, though it would still be true that it's celebrated in Switzerland); however, Geneva's own public holiday list has no mention of it. It seems unlikely that it would have been declared by one of the other cantons.

CERN has a list of official holidays, too. There is no Science Day, no mention of Kalam, no listing for May 26.

More circumstantial evidence is provided by TimeAndDate.com which has a list of all Swiss holidays and observances in 2005 and has no entry for March 26th.

Some light googling only comes up with repetitions of this claim, but no sources. If it were declared by Switzerland, we would expect Swiss record of someone declaring it; if it were celebrated, we would expect record of someone celebrating it. I have found none.

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    Which raises the question: do days like Literacy day, Earth day, AIDS day, etc. count as holidays? How would a government classify a "science day"? Though that's probably one for English Language & Usage. I'll just wait around a bit before accepting, if you don't mind.
    – muru
    May 28, 2015 at 15:16
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    No problem. As I stated in a comment to the question, there is a Bacon Day in the U.S., I have celebrated it several times, and yet (contrary to all good sense) it is not an official holiday anywhere. There is also Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are probably a thousand holidays in the U.S. that are celebrated by someone, but are in no way "official". The fact that a holiday is not official doesn't mean it's not a holiday. May 28, 2015 at 15:23
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    It is also possible that May 26, 2005 was declared to be a Science Day once (not every year), though I couldn't find any mention of that either. May 28, 2015 at 16:11
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    @iamnotmaynard "Superbowl Sunday" pretty much is "Football Day" in the United States. If you work in the service sector you end up having to plan for it like any other major holiday.
    – Chuu
    May 28, 2015 at 17:41
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    There are several ways a day can be (officially) proclaimed. This answer assumes public holiday, where the claim does not.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 1, 2015 at 0:07

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation explictly declares the statement as False.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation is the Swiss public broadcasting association.

They maintain and publish stories on the website Swissinfo.ch.

The following story was published on 27 July 2016 titled Kalam, not Modi, was the real rock star. The story was written on the first anniversary of Kalam's death to recount his 2005 visit, which was apparently the first visit to Switzerland by an Indian head of state since 1970.

The story includes a portion regarding his visit to various science-related landmarks in Switzerland, including CERN, during the visit.

As a renowned scientist himself, Kalam visited almost of all of Switzerland’s science-related attractions. The physicist president first visited Albert Einstein’s former home in Bern. It was exactly 100 years ago in this modest apartment that Einstein churned out some of his most significant physics papers. A nice coincidence that did not escape Kalam’s attention.

“Your country has always been a great seat of learning and the fertile minds Switzerland has nurtured is testimony to these credentials,” he said in a speech.

He also visited the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, CERN, in Geneva as well as the federal institutes of technology in Zurich and Lausanne to get a glimpse of Swiss innovation.

However, the article makes clear mention of the claim and declares it to be false, while explicitly linking to the source OP provided from The Hindu

However, contrary to some reports in the Indian media, Switzerland did not declare May 26 as Science Day in honour of his visit.

"Science was a important theme during his visit but no such day was declared," a spokesperson for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs told swissinfo.ch.


Dr. Kalam's state visit to Switzerland was originally planned for May 27-28, 2005. The original official media release (not available in English) emphasized a visit of the capital and the canton of Berne. It also mentioned visits to the Swiss Federal Institutes in Zurich and Lausanne during the president's stay, and referred to a more detailed program to be published later.

A second official media release did schedule the visits to the two Swiss Federal Institutes on May 26, "prior to his state visit to Switzerland". Dr. Kalam also visited CERN in Geneva on that day.

The official state visit was thus preceded by an unofficial visit to science institutions in Switzerland. Kalam signed agreements between India and CERN as a European institution, so his visit to CERN could not be part of a formal state visit to Switzerland.

Possibly some spokesperson mentioned that May 26 would be an unofficial "science day" preceding the official, formal state visit. Indian newspaper articles might have misinterpreted such a statement as an official declaration. No Swiss sources, neither official nor in newspapers, can be found on a formal declaration for that day.


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