Aarau Bachfischet


Category:
Social practices
  • Oral expressions
Canton:

Description

According to the Wirri Guild of Aarau, Bachfischet is the oldest Swiss custom that has been continually celebrated since its beginnings. The earliest written reference to the event is in the minutes of the Aarau Council meeting on 3 September 1526. For centuries the stream was a lifeline for the city, representing a source of drinking water, industrial water and water for firefighting. It was therefore essential to clean it and remove the accumulated silt. Nowadays Bachfischet takes place every September. The stream is cleaned in line with traditional procedure, which takes about four days. The end is marked on the penultimate Friday before the autumn holidays with a procession of schoolchildren carrying their own hand-made lanterns through the dark old town of Aarau. The procession welcomes the return of the stream, and has been made annually since the nineteenth century. The children in the procession sing the Bachfischet song and are rewarded afterwards with free food and drink. A firework display rounds off the festival, with a traditional final bang bringing the event to an official close.

The name "Bachfischet", meaning "stream fishing", dates back to when fishing in the stream was permitted prior to cleaning. Teenagers amused themselves by splashing around in the bed of the stream. Children play in the stream today too, enjoying the natural and exciting playground it provides. The stream is the centre of many stories and events, demonstrating the great importance it has for the people of Aarau.

Image gallery

  • Boatmen using their boats to help disabled children and teenagers be a part of the old tradition. © Adolf Fäs, Aarau 2009
  • The drums of the cadets announcing the procession and blending with the sound of children’s voices. © Bernhard Aellen, Aarau 2009
  • The frog on these lanterns is probably a reference to the frog in the Bachfischet song © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • Just as during the continued custom of floating candles, here too the residents of Aarau float candles and model boats on the city stream. © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • The artistic lanterns and the hazel rods create an incredible atmosphere and, with the Bachfischet song, make an artwork out of the tradition © R. Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • To preserve the “free for all” nature of the Bachfischet procession, there is no defined formation or order © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • Boatmen using their boats to help disabled children and teenagers be a part of the old tradition. © Adolf Fäs, Aarau 2009
  • The drums of the cadets announcing the procession and blending with the sound of children’s voices. © Bernhard Aellen, Aarau 2009
  • The frog on these lanterns is probably a reference to the frog in the Bachfischet song © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • Just as during the continued custom of floating candles, here too the residents of Aarau float candles and model boats on the city stream. © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • The artistic lanterns and the hazel rods create an incredible atmosphere and, combined with the Bachfischet song, make an artwork out of the tradition. © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009
  • To preserve the “free for all” nature of the Bachfischet procession, there is no defined formation or order. True to the spirit of “the pace of the first wave”, the teenagers proceed through the old town at a brisk speed. Shouting out the words of the song is also part of the earthy tradition. © Roger Gryzlak, Aarau 2009

Video

Film reporting on the 2011 Bachfischet and the history of the custom. © Heinerich Wirri-Zunft, Aarau 2011

References and documentation

Publications
  • Interview mit Urs Bänziger, Bachfischet-Obmann der Heinerich Wirri-Zunft vom 27. Juli 2011. Dokumentation im Aargauer Kuratorium

  • Franz Xaver Bronner: Der Kanton Aargau historisch, geographisch, statistisch geschildert. Beschreibung aller in demselben befindlichen Berge, Seen, Flüsse, Heilquellen, Städte, Flecken, Dörfer und Weiler, so wie der Schlösser, Burgen und Klöster. Nebst Anweisung, denselben auf die genussreichste und nützlichste Weise zu bereisen. Ein Hand- und Hausbuch für Kantonsbürger und Reisende. St. Gallen, 1844

  • Andreas Dietsch: Der Aarauer Bachfischet. Humoristisch dargestellt. Aarau, 1841 (älteste Beschreibung des aktuellen Bachfischet)

  • Hermann Rauber: «Fürio, de Bach brönnt». Der Aarauer Bachfischet. Aarau, 2000

  • Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer: Feste und Bräuche des Schweizervolkes. Zürich, 1940

Documentation
  • Aarauer Bachfischet

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Last modification: 01.09.2012
    Size: 214 kb
    Type: PDF