St. Nicholas is finally in Switzerland!
Yesterday was the day when I met St. Nicholas! Yes, it’s official – let Christmas begin! For me it was an important and planned event as want, as much as possible, to know and understand the local culture, enjoy this period of time in Luzern and find different Christmas experiences! And I will say honestly, next year will go there too!
You can check out the video about the moments I had. Btw, it is hard to film in the dark, because all the village was in the dark, and with all respect for the tradition – you can’t use flash light or any light at all.
Saint Nicholas is known as Samichlaus and on December 5th, the eve of St. Nicolas Day, some villages around the Lake of Luzern glow with the light of hundreds of gorgeous, heavy paper-cut bishops’ hats, iffele. It is crazy to see hundrets of men and boys parading in white robes through the streets and hear people cheering them through out all the parade. In total dark! You can see only the parade. And this year all the local shops agreed to switch off their lights too. It’s crazy beautiful and it is a must to see at least once in your life!
About the parade: The well-known parade in Küssnacht am Rigi begins when a cannon shot signals the start. First come men skillfully cracking long sheep whips. Next are the lighted iffelen, 180 young men dancing and swaying as they pass in their lighted headdresses. Surrounded by torchbearers, the bishop St. Nicholas himself comes with his two Schmutzlis. Trumpeters, playing a three tone melody, are followed by 700 Klausjäger, men in white farmer’s shirts swinging huge cow bells from heavy straps. The 700 bells ring as one. The procession ends with 200 men blowing cow horns in a repeated rhythm of two short blows and one long one. The streets resound with all these sounds of horns blowing, brass bands playing, whips cracking, and bells clanging. The parade is repeated in the early hours of morning, finishing up by 7 am. This solemn procession with whips, bells, and horns is rooted in pre-Christian times when noise was used to banish darkness and evil. Today’s whip-cracking heralds the arrival of St. Nicholas.
So for next year it is an amazing opportunity to be a part of Luzern traditions! I will be there. You should be there too!