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Lugging a log through Appenzell

The log is auctioned off in the Urnäsch square at the end of the procession

(picswiss.ch)

The people in Appenzell in eastern Switzerland are getting ready to celebrate the importance of logging in the canton. A log is pulled through several towns on a decorated wagon, accompanied by musicians, heralds, clowns and a bear.

The custom goes back about 200 years, and is believed to have originated from the tradition whereby woodcutters would receive a log as a gift from the landholder at the end of the logging season.

The best-known procession is held in Urnäsch every two years on the Monday (February 26) before Ash Wednesday.

Boys dressed as clowns and heralds on horseback lead the parade. The log itself is pulled by pairs of men dressed as woodcutters, carpenters and farmers. The log is "driven" by a carnival character, while a blacksmith sits at the back rhythmically hammering an anvil and throwing firecrackers into the air.

Musicians and a gypsy leading a dancing bear - a man in costume - on a chain also accompany the procession.

After returning to the village square in Urnäsch, the log is put up for auction, and this is followed by a party in a local restaurant.

The story of the log custom is told at the Museum for Appenzell Customs in Urnäsch. The museum is housed in a traditional building in the centre of the village.

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