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Chalandamarz tradition Driving out the winter

Jungen in einer Reihe
(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)

The first of March marks the day when "Chalandamarz" processions in eastern Switzerland chase winter out of the villages.

In the Romansh language spoken in canton Graubünden, "Chalandamarz" means "the beginning of March". In eastern Swiss valleys, March 1 means a lot of noise in the villages. Schoolchildren and adolescents walk with bells and whips through the streets and around every water fountain. They traditionally wear red pointed caps and blue peasant blouses and sing spring songs. They are sure to be as loud as possible.


Knabe tritt aus einer Tür
(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)
Jungen helfen sich beim Anziehen der Glocke
(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)
Umzug um den Brunnen
(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)

In some communities, only the boys are allowed to shout out the winter, while in others a straw man is burned. In some places the custom resembles a carnival procession. In the town of Ftan, the boys dress in costumes and chase the girls with inflated pig bladders.

Gruppenfoto
(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)

After the bell procession, the Chalandamarz Ball takes place in each village, traditionally prepared by the women and girls. Young and old take part and celebrate the coming spring.

A noisy tradition

In the Engadine, gangs of young people are chasing away old man winter. On March 1, colourful groups process noisily through the villages of the ...


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