Don't know if it is correct to post this here under customs or traditions but many visitors leave Switzerland with a cuckoo clock thinking this is a Swiss souvenir but in actual fact a cuckoo clock never originated in Switzerland., it actually came from the BLACK Forest ( schwarzwald) in Bavaria around 500 years ago. The locals in Bavaria grew crops in the summer season but in winter they were very poor and decided to make the cuckoo clock---- so now you know
Travelling from France and into Switzerland, it wasn't long until I hear the "ding, ding" in the fields.
Ah! I said, Swiss cow bells, Now we know we are in Switzerland!
Of course, everywhere we went, we heard them, and not only on Cows, but on Sheep too!
June, and Summer arrives, the snow has melted and it is time to take the Cows to the Mountain's, time for the Farmer to strap on a Bell. We saw many different sized Bell's, the huge ones like in my photo must be terribly heavy for the Cow to carry around. I must say I felt sorry for the Cow! They do not wear them all year round.
Did you know a bell can cost up to $1000?
And......Did you know .....
That a Farmer may put his Cow's in a Cable Car to move them quickly to the bottom?
This is a tradition dating back to the 14th century.
If you are lucky and here in Switzerland at the "right" time, this is after the snow has melted, you may see the "Alpaufzug", a procession through the village into the high pastures. The cows are decorated with floral wreaths woven through the horns, and the best milk-producing cow in the village leads the procession wearing the largest bell. The bells are made in various sizes, and cows are awarded bells according the milk production of the year.
I think that is what my Bells in the photo were for.
Le pays ou les vaches sont reines...
In our Alps, we have a exceptionnal breed of cow : la race d'Herens. These cows naturally fight in order to establish a hierarchy within the herd. These combats take place without any provocation. In springtime when the animals are released from their winter barns and during the journey up to the alpine pastures, they challenge each other to see who will be their leader.
You can assist to these fight in local contest around Wallis in Spring or on Alps in Summer (inalp):
17.04.2006 Raron, VIFRA
07.05.2006 Les Hauderes
01.10.2006 Martigny, Foire du Valais
I going middle of June to assist to an Inalp, so fresh photos will be added.
Look for a typical Swiss tradition event...
by admiring the flags tossing...
by hearing a yodelling or an Alphorn concert on the Alps...
by practicing an Alpine Wrestling (Schwingen)...
by throwing the mythic Unspunnen stone...
by playing Hornussen (Baseball Swiss Style)...
by wearing a national costume...
by discovering Jass (card game)...
Carnival in Lucerne is chaotic, ever-changing and exceptionally vital.
Although steeped in traditions that can be traced back over more than 600 years of written history, Carnival today is somewhat different to what it was around 30 years ago. Some of it's roots go back to ancient Germanic heathen customs when people tried to drive away evil spirits by making a lot of noise and wearing masks, whose horrible appearance would frighten away even the demons of winter.
Nowadays the motto is : The Weirder, the better. So it's not unusual to meet a bogeyman, a monster, a skeleton, a werewolf or a man carrying his head under his arm.
The carnival is dominated by large bands called "Guggen" which walk around the streets playing joyful cacophony music.
The Ibex ( Steinbock ) is an animal living in the upper part of the mountains in the alps and you will also find it in the coat of arms of Kanton Graubuenden. You willharly ever be able to see an ibex when climbing or hiking in the alps, because they are very shy and will run away whenever you get closer than just a few hundred meters. For that reason it is always nice to see a sculpture of an ibex like the one in my 1st photo, you will see it in Pontresina opposite of Hotel Walther, the giant hotel at the south end of the village.
Going by the historical post-carriage over the Gotthard-pass is certainly a really great experience and in my case I would even say that following this carriage in my car and taking photos at some great places would even make more sense than sitting inside the carriage. Take a look at their prices in the link below, 680 sfr per person, that is really quite much and it is even more expensive when there are less than 8 persons in the carriage.
Just imagine, THAT was the way that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe travelled from Germany to Italy twice.
This is the first time I saw something like this and I saw it at the top-station of Diavolezza, where everybody could just help themselves : all of these instruments and tools are ment in order to tighten the screws of the alpine equipment.
From Diavolezza there are various hiking- and climbing-routes down to the valley and a perfect equipment is essential for them! When you enlarge my last photo you will see a group of glacier-hikers in the landscape.
Romans or Raethoroman is the name of the 4th official language in Switzerland (besides german, french and italian) and it is spoken mainly in the valleys in the south-east of Switzerland, mainly in Kanton Graubuenden.
You will find many inscriptions in Romans there, BUT everybody will speak at least german and mostly also french, italian and english.
All over Switzerland everything that is sold has inscriptions in all 4 languages, just take a look at the sugar-packet that you get with a coffee in a restaurant, you will find the word sugar printed there in all 4 languages and that is also the way how swiss people will learn the expressions in the other languages in an easy way.
In Engadin / Graubuenden you will find a special kind of decorations on many house-fasades that you will hardly ever find in other areas of Switzerland or Europe.
Wonderful engravings will decorate mainly the frames of windows and doors and also the corners of the house. Most of these buildings will also have its name written on the facade like in my 3rd pic : Chesa Aebli (Chesa is the raethoroman word for house and Aebli maybe a familyname. See some fine excamples of this typical Engadiner-architecture also in my extra photos.
Alphorn - a traditional swiss musical instrumentand when you are lucky you will be able to hear a performance in Pilatus or at other tourist-places, that is really a lot of fun. This instrument was used in the beginning in order to transfer messages from one alp to another and it needs a lot of breath to make a melody, that is mostly quite deep and consisting only of a few tones.
I have a video about these alphorns and will post them here as well some day !That day in summer 2009 there were 2 different groups of alphorn-players at Pilatus and finally they played togeather
Maienfeld is a small village close to Vaduz and Johanna Spyri, the author of "Heidi" was there often on vacations. There is a "Heidiland" there now with a small museum that is quite interesting because it shows the interesting interior of an old farmhouse and from there you can walk uphill to various different stations that might have inspired Spyri as well for the famous book. I mainly enjoyed the town of Maienfeld, it has some interesting old houses and a castle. I also had lunch in the big Heidihotel next to Heidiland and it was a big disappointment, so I will rather post it in the warning-tips than in the restaurant-tips ! I had Roesti there and it is so easy to make good rösti, but they obviously used something out of a packet with some artificial taste.
Heidiland is open daily
between 10.00am and 05.00pm
Felsenputzer - it started as a joke
and became a funny summersport It all started as a joke for April 1st and when you click here, you can see a video about it, it was made at Brunni in Engelberg and there you can make a rock-cleaning-seminar including a diplom in a single day and there are 2-day-seminars as well, read more about the details in the link below. Unfortunately the video and most probably also the seminars are in german only.
The story of the video : when bird-poo is not removed immedialety from the mountain-rocks it will destroy the precious swiss mountains within a short time like Karies is destroying the teeth.
The Felsenputzer - singleday-diplom includes :
all transports by cablecar and chairlifts
mule-trecking & rock-cleaning
lunch in Brunnihuette
and it is 95 sfr p.p.
For 2 days it is 165 sfr p.p. and includes
as well a day of full pension in Brunnihiuette
Brunni is an alp high above Engelberg,( in the south-east of Luzern) - a cablecar and chairlift will take you there.
Travel to Switzerland
on your birthday, because
many attractions will be
totally free for you !
____________________And the Brienzer Rothornbahn - in my main photo is just one of them ! Just bring your identity-card and you will get a totally free ride up and down.
The funicular to the Niesen (close to Spiez) offers the same and for connecting these 2 places you can take one of the many ships of Brienzersee and Thunersee and these ships will be free as well on your birthday.
It will be hard and totally impossible to catch ALL of these free birthday-offers, but why dont you leave the rest for the next year : The train to Schynige Platte has that birthday-offer as well-
is quite different from
other places in Europe Schweizer Fasnacht, the Carneval in Sitzerland starts at 5.00a.m. with a giant clash and douzends of smaller and larger groups of people wearing strange masks are parading through the city playing their own kind of music, in fact its mostly just making noise with all sorts of instruments that makes a constant melody, although they are all trying to play something different. See some photos in my link below !
The Fasnacht always starts at Schmutziger Donnerstag - Carnival Thursday - Jeudi gras - Giovedì grasso, that is the thursday before the mardi-gras
Click here for all dates of Jeudi gras untill the year 2035
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