Maiensässfahrt and Gita a Selva (Trip to the alpine pastures)


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

Chur schoolchildren have made their annual trip to the “Maiensässen” (May alpine pastures with huts and barns) since 1854. On a sunny day towards the end of May, their teachers lead them out of the town and up to the surrounding pastures where they play in the countryside and enjoy an outdoor barbecue. In the evening the children are welcomed back by the people of the town and they make a procession through the old town with musical accompaniment. Every three years the procession is given a theme and the children dress up accordingly. A speech is held and a traditional song sung, before the children are told that there will be no school the following day.

There is a similar spring tradition in Poschiavo. On a bright Sunday in May, schoolchildren of the Reformed Church and their families walk to the Selva pasture above the village on a church trip which has taken place since the 1840s. They make their way to the chapel on Selva, where a service is held and where everyone sings the Selva song. They then enjoy a feast of polenta made from buckwheat flour and prepared in a large copper pot, before dedicating their afternoon to games and entertainment. At the end of the day the group walks back to the village together.

Image gallery

  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: Passing Obertor © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: At one of the huts © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: Cooking sausages over the fire © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur © Nadja Simmen/Südostschweiz
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • The traditional Chur May pastures song © Martin Schmid (Text), Wilhelm Steiner (Melodie)/Stadtschule Chur, 1926
  • The Chur song © Martin Schmid (Text), Lucius Juon/Stadtschule Chur, 1965
  • Gita a Selva, Poschiavo: Dishing out the polenta © Pierluigi Crameri, 2011
  • Gita a Selva, Poschiavo: Stopping on the way for a picnic © Pierluigi Crameri, 2011
  • Inno della Scuola Riformata Poschiavina © G. Luzzi (Text), L. Zanetti (Melodie), ed. 1925
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: Passing Obertor © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: At one of the huts © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur: Cooking sausages over the fire © Walter Schmid, 2010
  • Trip to the pastures, Chur © Nadja Simmen/Südostschweiz
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • Parade in Chur around the theme of mankind’s inventions and discoveries © Pit Wolf, 2010
  • The traditional Chur May pastures song © Martin Schmid (Text), Wilhelm Steiner (Melodie)/Stadtschule Chur, 1926
  • The Chur song © Martin Schmid (Text), Lucius Juon/Stadtschule Chur, 1965
  • Gita a Selva, Poschiavo: Dishing out the polenta © Pierluigi Crameri, 2011
  • Gita a Selva, Poschiavo: Stopping on the way for a picnic © Pierluigi Crameri, 2011
  • Inno della Scuola Riformata Poschiavina © G. Luzzi (Text), L. Zanetti (Melodie), ed. 1925

Video

Chur May pastures procession in 2010 © Pit Wolf/Foto Wolf, Chur

Audio

Chur school: The May pastures song © Stadtschule Chur

References and documentation

Publications
  • Domenic Cantieni: Churer Maiensässfahrt 1854-2004. In: Bündner Jahrbuch 46. Chur, 2004, p. 67-71

  • Heinrich Jecklin: Churer Maiensässfahrten. Chur, 1984

  • Martin Schmid: Stiller Berg, viellieber Wald. In: Historische Aufsätze. Chur, 1969

  • Riccardo Tognina: Puschlaver Volksbräuche und Dorffeste. In: Terra Grischuna no. 5. Chur, 1965

  • Riccardo Tognina: Gita a Selva di Poschiavo. In: Das Jahr der Schweiz in Fest und Brauch. Zürich, 1981

Documentation