Unearthly creatures rule Lötschental

Ernst Rieder is responsible for creating many of the unique masks Keystone Archive

Although it's one of the most picturesque valleys in the country, it's not safe to visit the Lötschental during the month of February. That's when the "Tschäggättä" rampage through the valley towns.

This content was published on January 25, 2001 - 10:27

There's not much known about their origins, but the Tschäggättä appear every year at the same time, usually under the cover of darkness.

In reality, the creatures are costumed young men. They drape goats or sheep's fur and bells over their bodies and disguise their appearances with carved masks. Typical to Lötschental, they have twisted faces, bulging eyes and sinister wide grins.

It's a centuries old tradition, but remains true to its anarchic roots with the Tschäggättä refusing to be organised. Like many winter customs in Switzerland, its believed the masks and bells helped drive away evil spirits.

In 1550, the people of the valley even donned the Tschäggättä costumes to go into battle against the forces of the bishop.

Today, the Tschäggättä roam through the villages following no set route, and often prey on attractive young women, marking them with soot they've smeared on their fists.


In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.