Swiss folklore


Swiss folklore

Swiss folklore is used to describe a collection of local stories, celebrations and customs of the alpine and sub-alpine peoples that occupy Switzerland. The country of Switzerland is made up of several distinct cultures including German, French, Italian as well as the Romansh speaking population of Graubunden. Each group brought their own folklore traditions with them.

Switzerland has always occupied a crossroads of Europe. While Switzerland has existed as an alliance and country since 1291, the Swiss as a culture and people existed well before this time. Before the Swiss, the region was occupied by Pagan and later Christian Germanic tribes which would become the Swiss. Before the Germanic peoples, the region was occupied by Roman and Gallo-Roman populations. Finally, before the Romans the Celtic Helvetii lived in what would become Switzerland. In addition to conquest, Switzerland has been a crossroad of Europe since at least the Roman Empire. Constant movement of cultures and ideas into Switzerland has created a rich and varied folklore tradition.

Pre-Christian Folklore

* Artio, a Celtic goddess of wildlife, is specifically known from Switzerland.
* Barbegazi, a small white furred man with large feet. Helpful and shy they live in the mountains and are rarely seen.
* Berchtoldstag, festival in honor of Berchta or Berchtold
* Berchtold, white cloaked Germanic being, leader of the Wild Hunt
* Böögg, or bogeyman, of the Sechseläuten festival
* Dwarfs, the little hill or earth men. Described as happy and helpful, they raise cattle and produce magical cheeses [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/tfm/tfm096.htm] cite book|title=The Fairy MythologyIllustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries.|first= Thomas|last=Keightley|date=1870]
* Dragonet "little dragons" tales originated in Switzerland during the Middle Ages.
* Fasnacht (or Fastnacht), pre-Lenten carnival
* Kobolds, called 'Servants'
* Jack o' the bowl is a house spirit of Switzerland for whom a bowl of sweet cream may be left out.
* Perchta (or Bertha, Berchta, "The Shining One"), Germanic goddess, and white cloaked leader of the Perchten who drive bad spirits away, and female leader of the Wild Hunt. January 6 is her festival day.
* Perchten, those followers who work with Perchta, as well the name of their wooden animal masks.
* Rosmerta, Gallo-Roman goddess of fertility and abundance
* Samichlaus leads a donkey laden with treats and toys for children.
** Schmutzli, St. Nicholas' sooty helper (see Companions of Saint Nicholas)
* The Singing Fir Tree, a Swiss fairy tale
* Bäregräubschi and Chöderchessi, traditional wedding presents in the Simmental (Bernese Oberland). The former being a kind of fork symbolising the male element in the wedding. The latter being a magical bucket symbolising the female part. Reported in an Italian anthology of Alpine culture in the 1860s, it is unknown, whether this custom is still in use [POPOLI DEL MONDO USI E COSTUMI. Europa. MILANO VALLARDI S.D., 1913, p. 26.]
* Schnabelgeiss, a tall goat with a beak in Ubersitz
* Treicheln
* Chlausjagen
* Ubersitz
** Huttefroueli (or Greth Schell), an old woman who carries her husband on her back
* Tschäggätä [http://www.swissworld.org/en/switzerland/resources/dvds/customs_and_traditions/ Customs and Traditions in Switzerland] accessed 20 May, 2008]
* Vogel Gryff (the Griffin Bird)

Legends of Pre-Confederate Switzerland (Alemannia)

* Saint Gall, Irish monk who in the early 7th Century helped introduce Christianity to eastern Switzerland. The Abbey of St. Gall is believed to have been built on the site of his hermitage [ws|"" in the 1913 "Catholic Encyclopedia"]
* Magnus of Füssen, a missionary saint in southern Germany. He was active in the 7th or 8th Century and is considered the founder of St. Mang's Abbey, Füssen [ws|"" in the 1913 "Catholic Encyclopedia"]
* Saint Fridolin, patron of Glarus

Legends of the Old Swiss Confederacy

* William Tell
* Arnold Winkelried
* Bruder Klaus

ee also

*Alpine culture
*Pre-Christian Alpine traditions
*Transhumance in the Alps
*Schützenfest
*Steinstossen
*Schwingen
*Unspunnenfest
*German folklore
*French folklore
*Dutch folklore

References


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