Curious traditions

Alpine horn – an imposing instrument

The Alpine horn is seen as the national instrument of Switzerland. It was first documented in the middle of the 16th century. It takes its unconventional shape from the fir tree that grows on a slope in a crooked shape. The alpine horn not only looks imposing, its sound is impressive: it can be heard from 5 to 10 kilometres away.

Sources: Wikipedia,

Three years and one day on the road

Flared trousers, a shirt, waistcoat and corduroy jacket, as well as a wide brimmed hat: what sounds like ABBA’s dress sense describes the clothing of joiners on the road. It has a long tradition. What stands out the most are the flares. Their cut is predetermined: on the narrowest parts of the leg, they have a circumference of 48 centimetres, the flare at the end of the trouser leg has to be at least 65 centimetres wide. Its original purpose was for protection, to prevent sawdust and wood shavings from getting into your shoes. Other aspects of the clothing also mean something: the eight white buttons on the waistcoat evoke the eight-hour working days and the six buttons on the jacket signify the six-day week.

Sources: Holzbau Schweiz, Wikipedia, Swissinfo

You’re on show here

Having your own balcony is now almost taken for granted. That was not always the case. Buildings for “ordinary people” have only had balconies since the 19th century. Before then, they were reserved for the aristocracy or public figures. The public balcony enabled dignitaries to appear before the people. Public balconies of this type still exist to this day. A famous balcony is the one on St Peter’s Basilica from where the new Pope is introduced and the Easter blessing “Urbi et orbi” is given. Equally well known is the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London. That is where newly-wedded royals since Charles and Diana have shared their first kiss. The balcony at the Casa di Guilietta in Verona is slightly less imposing: this is where Romeo apparently competed for Juliet’s affections.

Sources: Wikipedia, tabloid press

“We can take from the past its fires, and not its ashes.”

Jean Jaurès

Glowing discs for your sweetheart

The people of Untervaz show their love in a fiery way. At “Schiibaschlaha” (disc flinging) on the first Sunday in Lent, lads fling glowing wooden discs off a hill into the valley. Every disc is accompanied by a loud call and a dedication to their sweetheart.


All about cherries

The book “CHRIESI. Kirschenkultur rund um Zugersee und Rigi” (CHERRIES. Cherry growing around Lake Zug and the Rigi) is about the history of cherries.

Sources:, Ueli Kleeb and Caroline Lötscher (editors): “CHRIESI. Kirschenkultur rund um Zugersee und Rigi”

The city of Zurich celebrates the Easter tradition of “Zwänzgerle”. Children hold out a hard-boiled egg for an adult. The adult attempts to throw a 20-cent coin in such a way that it remains lodged in the egg. It’s an almost impossible feat which pleases the child because they are allowed to keep the 20-cent coin and the egg.


Salt to fight evil spirits

Salt has a cleansing effect – the Japanese are convinced of it. Hence they use it even outside of the kitchen. Shop owners scatter little piles of it outside their shops to ward off evil spirits. At funerals, guests receive salt to free themselves from negative spirits. And in sumo, the wrestlers throw it in the ring – for a clean and safe fight.

Sources: Wikipedia,

Cats and dogs are popular housemates

The Swiss are animal lovers – even within their own four walls. One in three Swiss homes has a pet. Cats are at number one. One in five households has cats. 13 per cent of households have dogs.

Source: “Wohntraumstudie 2016/17” (a study of living habits)