Sunday, 16 November 2014

Celebrating Räbeliechtli Umzug

Despite its impressive sounding Swiss translation, Räbeliechtli Umzug is actually a celebration of swedes. But woe betide any ex-pat who carves out a Halloween type spooky face on this rotund vegetable often confused for a pumpkin. No, your carvings should strictly conform to a series of moon, star and heart shapes, and any other cutesy image your bambino desires.

So I spent an inordinate amount of time scooping out the inside of the three swedes we ended up with (our ever-enthusiastic 5-year-old deftly swiping a couple extra from Kindie) and carving some dodgy looking shapes on the outside, until I realised I was supposed to use biscuit cutters and instead peel the skin off, which would have saved me a couple of hours. And then there is the stringing rigmarole. You have to tie large enough knots in the string under the three holes in the swede lid so it sits a few cm above the body.

The procession takes place in the first week of November in many communities and in our village is lead by the Kindergarten and nursery. The event features a host of tee-lights glowing delicately inside the intricately carved swede shells carried by a procession of under 7s and decorating two wagons to ward off evil spirits and celebrate the harvest. They lead the rest of the village on a circuit of the village - roads were closed and traffic brought to a halt while we negated the main road at the bottom - and end up in the village square where all the little participants get free frankfurters and bread and a drink. There's Gluwein, coffee and cake for the parents.

It's really a lovely tradition, bringing the community together to enjoy each other's company. We finished the night (by this time 8pm) with an impromptu game of 'Hatz' - or tig in English.

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