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Canadians Yodel Too Swiss abroad keep yodelling tradition alive

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Some people will go an awfully long way to yodel: the “Wildrose” yodel club, for example, has come all the way from Canada to take part in this weekend’s Federal Yodelling Festival in Brig-Glis, canton Valais. (Julie Hunt, swissinfo.chexternal link)

The Wildrose club was formed in Alberta 20 years ago by ten Swiss emigrants. Now there are 15 members of all ages and from all walks of life, some of them second generation Swiss. 

Ahead of the festival, the group, together with the local Riederalp yodel club, gathered for a sing-song on the Eggishorn, overlooking the Aletsch glacier. swissinfo.ch talked to some of the Wildrose members about why they love Canada, what they miss about Switzerland, and whether it’s important to keep Swiss traditions alive when living abroad. 

Yodelling almost died out in Switzerland when cheese production moved from the mountains to the valleys. Alpine herdsmen and dairymen used to yodel to keep each other posted with the latest news or to drive cattle home, at a time when there were neither phones nor convenient forms of transport. Yodelling and the alphorn experienced a renaissance with the revival of folklore and the advent of tourism. Once the privilege of city guilds, flag throwing has been growing in popularity since it was first promoted in 1910 by the Swiss Yodelling Association. 

15,000 yodellers, alphornists and flag throwers are expected this weekend at the 30th Federal Yodelling Festival. Among the foreign participants, apart from the Canadians, are groups from Japan, Italy and South Africa. The venue, Brig-Glis, is gearing up for 150,000 visitors.