Bochselnacht


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

Bochselnacht is celebrated by primary and secondary schools in Weinfelden on the Thursday of the last week before Christmas. Children and teenagers carve animals (“Bochseltiere”) on to hollowed-out fodder beets and place candles inside them. After dark, they light the candles and take the animal lanterns on a procession through the centre of Weinfelden, ending on the square in front of the town hall. There they sing a special Bochselnacht song before proceeding to their school for their reward of a pretzel. At 8 pm the older children perform at the Bochselnacht Theatre. The schoolchildren, who until 2004 were allowed to smoke on this one evening, are not the only ones carried away by the party spirit; the adults enjoy themselves too, heading for restaurants after the theatre. There they tuck into the "Böllewegge", a type of onion bread that is baked especially for the evening and served with Ottenberg wine and "Salzis" sausage. The villages around Ottenberg celebrate Boschselnacht as well, but the custom has evolved in its own way in each village. Its origin and symbolism remain something of a mystery, but the residents of Weinfelden and surrounding areas continue to propagate a number of different legends.

Image gallery

  • Procession and spectators © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Procession and spectators © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Procession with carved beets and lanterns © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Burning lanterns and carved beets © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • A carved beet © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Paper lanterns made by high school students © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Paper lanterns made by high school students © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Curved turnips, around 1950 © Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden
  • The students are getting bread and sausages after the parade, around 1960 © Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden
  • «Bochsel-animals» at the Bochsel-night 1930
  • Procession and spectators © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Procession and spectators © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Procession with carved beets and lanterns © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Burning lanterns and carved beets © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • A carved beet © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Paper lanterns made by high school students © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Paper lanterns made by high school students © Roger Pfister, Weinfelden 2006
  • Curved turnips, around 1950 © Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden
  • The students are getting bread and sausages after the parade, around 1960 © Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden
  • «Bochsel-animals» at the Bochsel-night 1930

References and documentation

Publications
  • Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer (Ed.): Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens vol. 4, Berlin, 1931, p. 1545

  • Thomas Holenstein: Die Bochselnacht (unveröffentlicher Vortragstext). Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden, 1998

  • Hermann Lei: Die Weinfelder Bochelnacht. In: Thurgauer Bräuche. Ed. Thurgauische Kantonalbank. Weinfelden, 1977, p. 36 - 39

  • Hermann Lei: Geschichte der Sekundarschule Weinfelden. 1834 - 1984. Weinfelden, 1984

  • Walter Seeger: Die Bochselnacht in Weinfelden und Umgebung. In: Thurgauer Jahrbuch vol. 17, 1941, p. 9-22

  • Hermann Stähelin: Die Boxelnacht. Über die Bedeutung der am Donnerstage vor Weihnachten in Weinfelden alljährliche wiederkehrende Feier. In: Thurgauische Beiträge zur vaterländischen Geschichte vol. 26, 1886, p. 115 - 124.

  • Walter Stammbach: Tagebuch-Aufzeichnungen (1921 - 1949). Bürgerarchiv Weinfelden

Documentation
  • Bochselnacht

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