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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The old custom of "Silvesterchlausen" in Switzerland

One of the finest traditions of Switzerland is the "Silvesterchlausen" in the Kanton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. The custom is celebrating the New Year's Eve once after the current Gregorian calendar (31st December) and once by the old Julian calendar. (January 13). Then groups of  beautifully dressed men "Schuppeln" move from house to house to wish a good New Year. I had the opportunity to accompany the "Hofbachschuppel" on their route. The weather was mixed, and especially in the morning there was a mystical and misty atmosphere.

The "Vorrolli" (in the figure of a woman) leads the Schuppel, followed by four "Mannevölcher" (men) with large bells. Last the "Noerolli", another female figure. They wear elaborate bonnets, richly decorated with scenes from everyday life. Arrived at a house the inhabitants are ringed out with the large bells. Then they stand together and the leader starts with his head-voice a "Zäuerli" (a form of nature yodel). So pure and clear as mountain spring water. The other "Chläuse" join in harmoniously. Sometimes quickly, sometimes more melancholy sounds the nature yodel in the beautiful countryside of the Appenzell hinterland.

The hats and bonnets of the "Chläuse" are decorated with scenes from everyday life. In many hours of work pieces with intricate figures and ornaments are decorated. The motto of the Hofbachschuppel is "Silvesterchläuse". Even the hats of the figures have scenes from everyday life in a detail that's hard to believe.


In addition to the "Beautyful" there are also the "Beautiful-ugly" and the "Ugly". The "Beautiful-ugly" have dresses of pine branches, moss and other natural materials. The hats also represent scenes from everyday life, but are not so richly decorated as the "Beautyful".

The "Ugly" have a similar dress but horrible masks with horns and teeth of animals. They are wilder than the others and dance and jump scary.

These images are just a small selection of this fascinating event.