"Räben" lantern procession


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

In many communities across the canton of Zurich, processions are held on St Martin's Day, 11 November. Children hollow out turnips and carve them into lanterns, later putting candles in them and carrying them through the dark streets to the sound of musical accompaniment. The procession often finishes with a drink or some hot food. The custom is organised by sport and community associations, residents' associations, church groups, schools and kindergartens.

The most significant lantern festival takes place in Richterswil. The event has been run by the local transport association since 1908 and over the years has become a large public festival known across many regions. Thousands of visitors flood to Richterswil in extra trains and boats put on especially for the occasion.

The procession of lanterns is a relatively new custom. Reliable accounts of similar processions in Zurich Oberland date back to the 1920s, when the lanterns were probably carried through the streets individually instead of in an organised procession. It was a rural custom which took place within communities.

Image gallery

  • Richterswil Community Hall bathing in the light of hundreds of turnip lanterns © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Wolf’s head” by UHC Greenlight, “Steve Lee” made by the high school, “Tiger’s Head” made by Satus Gymnastics Association © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Pendulum clock” by Richterswil Watersports Club with more than a thousand turnips © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Cuckoo clock” by Richterswil Gymnastics Association and the football club’s “Panthera Tigris” amongst crowds of spectators © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • Richterswil Community Hall bathing in the light of hundreds of turnip lanterns © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Wolf’s head” by UHC Greenlight, “Steve Lee” made by the high school, “Tiger’s Head” made by Satus Gymnastics Association © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Pendulum clock” by Richterswil Watersports Club with more than a thousand turnips © André Springer, Horgen, 2010
  • “Cuckoo clock” by Richterswil Gymnastics Association and the football club’s “Panthera Tigris” amongst crowds of spectators © André Springer, Horgen, 2010

References and documentation

Publications
  • Adrian Bänninger: Die Räbechilbi in Richterswil. Ein Lichtbrauch im November im Kanton Zürich. In: Sechseläuten und Morgestraich. Die schönsten Feste und Bräuche der Schweiz. Geschichte und Gegenwart. Von Adrian Bänniger. Kreuzlingen, 2007, p. 176-179

  • Albert Bärtsch: Räbechilbi in Richterswil. In: Schweizer Feste und Bräuche: Volksfestkultur im Jahresverlauf (vol. 2). Von Albert Bärtsch. Wädenswil, 2009, p. 186-187

  • Ueli Gyr: Räbelichtli-Umzüge im Kanton Zürich. In: Das Jahr der Schweiz in Fest und Brauch. Ed. Rolf Thalmann, Fritz Hofer. Zürich, 1981, p. 265-266

  • Elsbeth Liebl: Umziehen mit Lichtern. In: Atlas der schweizerischen Volkskunde. Kommentar II, p. 221-230

  • Werner Röllin: Die Richterswiler «Räbechilbi». Ein Beispiel für Braucherhaltung und -gestaltung. In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde vol. 77. Basel, 1981, p. 151-177

  • Emil Stauber: Sitten und Bräuche im Kanton Zürich (2 Teile). Aberglauben und Sagen im Kanton Zürich. Zürich, 1922 und 1924

  • Rolf Thalmann: Die Räbechilbi in Richterswil. In: Brauchtum und Volksfeste in der Schweiz. Von Rolf Thalmann. Zürich, 1992, p. 45

Documentation