Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Chalandamarz: A Colorful Swiss Tradition



It's March 1st.

This is the day that children from the Engadine Valley in southeastern Switzerland chase away winter by singing and ringing cowbells. The children don blue shirts and red caps and process through their towns carrying large bells, collecting treats and making a huge racket.

Swissinfo recorded the sights and sounds of this colorful tradition in the (otherwise) tranquil village of Ardez. You can read, and hear, about it by following this link.

Chalandamarz gained much publicity following the publication of the children's book Schellenursli, "A Bell for Ursli", written by Selina Chönz and illustrated by Alois Carigiet. Look for this book if you ever go to the Engadine. It's a fun gift and a wonderful keepsake.

An excerpt from the book:

All through the summer in the Engadine Mountains of Switzerland the cattle feed in the mountain meadows, carrying bells around their necks. The calves have little bells and the cows have big ones. When they come into their sheds for the winter the bells are taken off. In March when winter is over, the Spring Festival comes, and the bells are rung in the village to celebrate the end of the cold, dark days. All the boys march in procession through the street, each carrying the biggest bell he can, and they ring their bells to drive the winter away and welcome back the sunny spring. And the village people smile, and fill the bells with cakes and nuts and apples. But only the big boys can carry the big bells: the little boys come at the tail of the procession carrying little calf-bells. This is the story of Ursli, and of the adventure he has when the Spring Festival comes around and he decides he is old enough to have a big bell for the first time.

Happy Chalandamarz!

Trips that visit this region:


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