Out & About in Switzerland: The fool from the castle
Visitors to Thun are promised a devil of a time if they rise early on October 2. The "Fulehung" will descend from the steps leading down from the castle, chasing people through the town and lashing out at them with a pig's bladder.
The Fulehung, wearing a devil's mask, is again expected to sweep like a hurricane through the streets of the old town, striking fear into the hearts of young and old alike. No matter, the townspeople of Thun are on the streets by four o'clock in the morning so as not to miss the punishment.
Many retreat a safe distance to a nearby restaurant or café, where they warm themselves with a traditional flour soup.
The annual event has its origins in the Burgundian wars in the 15th century, when soldiers from Thun are said to have returned to the city with a prize captive, the fool of Charles the Bold. But the name Fulehung and devil's mask were first mentioned in the second half of the 19th century. (The original mask is on display in the castle museum.)
At that time, the Thun cadets brought the character back to life as a form of entertainment for the local children. And to this day, he still has the job of clearing the crowds from the square in front of the Rathaus (town hall) to make room for the cadet parade, which gets underway at six o'clock in the morning.
The parade is part of a four-day shooting competition, which also includes open-air concerts. The competition (Ausschiesset) begins on September 30 and ends with a ball on October 3.
by Dale Bechtel
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