By Bill Harby
Upon their 50th wedding anniversary, Pierrette and Lucien Erard received an unexpected surprise: a big bouquet of flowers from the government of the town of Neuchâtel.
“It’s always nice to receive a gift, especially when it’s unexpected, and from the government of my hometown”, said Madame Erard. “I was also surprised by the grandeur of the floral arrangement consisting of a pot, a cyclamen, various green plants and a large Christmas star. A lovely miniature garden.”
Pierrette Erard was born in Neuchâtel, and has lived there almost her entire life. She was a member of the town council from 1991 to 2001. But she and her husband, who worked for the University of Neuchâtel, and then in foreign affairs for the Swiss government, were not receiving special treatment; they were gifted with the wedding anniversary flowers simply because they were residents of the town.
All married couples living in the city (those the city is aware of) receive this gift and a letter of congratulations on their 50th anniversary – and every five years following, according to Remy Voirol, chancellor of the city of Neuchâtel.
In a canton with Switzerland’s second highest divorce rate (47.4%1), recognizing those who make their mariages last 50 years is a fine gesture.
The town of Neuchâtel also recognizes other milestones in residents’ lives, he said. When they turn 18, they are received by the city council at a ceremony presented by a town official, according to Voirol.
When Neuchâtel residents retire, they also get a bouquet. Likewise for any resident who turns 100 years old – and 101, 102 …
In these times, when many see government as something less prone to giveth, and more prone to taketh away, this fragrant gesture seems especially sweet.
So we’re wishing Madame and Monsieur Erard many more flowery visits from their town. And we send a toast to the town of Neuchâtel for their thoughtfulness.