Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest Post: Räbeliechtli

by MrsMac

Last Saturday my husband and daughter attended our town's Räbeliechtli.  It's a parade celebrating turnips.  Kind of.  Basically, the kids parade through the town carrying hollowed out and decorated turnip lanterns with floats made out of turnip lanterns.

We were lucky that a friend of ours made the lantern above for Marion. 

I'll be perfectly honest and tell you all that I have tried my hardest to find an explanation behind Räbeliechtli and have come up with nada.  I've googled, I've questioned neighbors... nothing. 

But that doesn't stop us from enjoying it!  Our town's parade was fairly small but all the kids got involved.

 Pictures above by MrsMac

However, this Saturday night, Richterswil is having a fair, Räbechilbi, before their Räbeliechtli.  The whole town is lit with lanterns to celebrate.

The Richterswil Räbeliechtli is the largest turnip (or sugar beet) parade in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  And from the pictures I've seen online... 

Picture above from

... it looks gorgeous!

The festivities start at 3 pm and the parade at 6:30 pm,  Maybe we'll see you there!

Guest blogger bio: MrsMac's is an American expat in Switzerland. She enjoys exploring life in a different country with a bossy toddler and sweet little baby in tow. She writes about her adventures abroad in Switzerland on her blog,  Swiss Family Mac

Note from Swisstory: I am really excited about this and hoping Jace wants to check out some turnip-o-lanterns with me. I did find some more information about this interesting holiday, but in German only... and more here.. After reading this, I found out that this is a kind of Thanksgiving, as in the middle-ages turnips were the modern day potatoes, so the townspeople gave thanks for the bounty and celebrated the harvest each fall. Now it is just another tourist event - the residents of Richterswil are REQUIRED to decorate their homes during the big event with turnip lanterns - and over 25 TONS of turnip are grown in the Zurich area each year for this event alone. WOAH. Thanks, MrsMac for sharing this cool tradition. It is the first I have heard of it! See you Saturday in Richterswil!


Chantal said...

Ooh, thanks for the heads-up. This sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday.

Elisa, The Unlikely Housewife said...

The Swiss have the most peculiar traditions. So many of them date from the days when it was mainly a farming country, and yet they are still celebrated, no fail, every year. Funny people :-)

Amanda said...

I saw some kids parading around with these two nights ago and asked a Swiss friend what it was all about. She says that she remembers doing it as a kid, that it's a big tradition. When I asked her why, she had no clue! Keeping traditions for tradition's sake, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I really like this Räbeliechtli. I like the explanation from Wikipedia about it being someking of feast of light when it's dark (coming from the Celts and Roman). I feel that it helps the children get used to the evening being so dark, as they work on their lantern and singing for quite some time and look forward to their parade (Umzug). I saw it as an initiation to the dark evenings of winter for the children. In any case, it's really important for children and let's not forget that North American do carve pumpkins at around the same time!

Kay B. Elle

abby jenkins said...

We are spending Christmas with my husband's family in Zermatt this year! I can't wait for some Swiss wonderfulness!

You blog will be a good primer, thanks!

Jennifer said...

It's associated with St. Martin's Day, which in Germany is celebrated by parading with (usually home-made) lanterns.

And it's no more peculiar than carving a pumpkin, really. And prettier.


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