Today Christianity celebrates Epiphany, or the revelation of Jesus Christ to humanity. Since living in Switzerland I tough that the catholic feast of the Three Kings was something else entirely than the orthodox one I was used to, Boboteaza = Baptism. It took me a while to understand that western and eastern Christians actually celebrate the same idea, the revelation of God incarnated as Jesus Christ and his manifestation to the world.
Here comes a Christmas tradition from a special canton of Switzerland, Appenzell Inner-Rhodes, the smallest Swiss federal state by population number and the last one to award women the right to vote in cantonal elections (only in 1991). Appenzell Inner-Rhodes is most known for the practice of Landsgemeinde, open voting by the raising of hands in the public town square, one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. This canton is also known for its unique folk costumes, naive paintings and agrarian traditions. Its relative isolation, it is located away from the main communication routes, was a contributing factor in the preservation of the specificity of traditional practices at various times of the year. One of these unique practices is the Chlausezüüg.
When I moved to Fribourg from the overcrowded and suffocating place where I lived before, shared with almost 4 other million souls, I had the impression nothing much was happening…no Christmas rush, no over the top Christmas lights or a huge Christmas market.
I still have one of the toys that Saint Nicholas left in my boots when I was a child, it’s a mother gorilla stuffed toy holding a baby gorilla in her arms. I had named her Uga because at that time I thought she looked like the daughter of Ugo Fantozzi, an Italian series my mother was watching on TV. I gave it to Friboy a while ago and told him that it was from Saint Nicholas, he was shocked because he doesn’t picture me as a child. I am his mom, I couldn’t have been a smaller person that believed in magic and waited impatiently for Saint Nicholas just like him. He never reacted like this when I showed him photos of me as a child, this gorilla made me that little girl in his eyes.
I wrote about the Old Highland Museum in a previous blog post in the context of their temporary exhibition of Swiss paper-cut art. However, this museum is well worth a visit for their permanent exhibition of traditional art and lifestyle of the Fribourg highlands.
“Drat, double drat and triple drat”, to quote Wacky Races’ Dick Dastradly, this city keeps the wonder in my eyes each time I discover something new. This year I finally got to see the 12 hours of Auge humorous bike competition and I completely understated why friends raved about it.
Friday was a bank holiday in the canton of Fribourg and we took this opportunity to visit a museum that had interested me for quite some time but didn’t get the chance to see until now because it’s open only for 3 hours a day, between 14:00 – 17:00.
The Sense folk costume is unique in Switzerland, this type used to be worn by girls upon marriage. The headdress was marker of the marital status, like allover Europe and in other parts of the world. Nowadays the traditional costume is worn for the catholic Corpus Christi processions in Tafers and Dudingen.
As much as I love art, I wish I could say the coolest museum in Fribourg is the Art and History one, but it’s actually not. The Natural History Museum is the cultural institution by far the most alive and in tune with its public, especially the young public. Which is rather ironic for a place exhibiting dead animals but this means it is a real dynamic learning hub.