Greiflet


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

The old dialect words 'greifflen' or 'gräufflen' refer to the performance of farces by costumed and masked figures. Accordingly, the central component of the Greiflet, a custom observed on the Feast of Epiphany in the inner parts of the canton of Schwyz only, is a theatrical, satirical dialogue. Two speakers perform before an audience gathered in the evening on the main square or in a restaurant. Their show, known as the 'Plöder', consists of verses which take a satirical look at events of the past year, and contains no shortage of sharp-tongued, amusing and even malicious commentary on local events and personalities. Another key feature of the Greiflet is the loud but leisurely procession of the Trychler (cowbell ringers) and Geisselchlepfer (whip-crackers). Up to a hundred or more participants make their way through the villages, creating a deafening, ear-splitting noise as they go. Noise-making processions have been part of the Greiflet tradition since the 16th century, although in those days they were held by local young men's associations. The 'Schwyzer Greifler', founded in the canton's capital, Schwyz, in 1917, was the first association set up to organise the event. Schwyz was also the site of the inaugural 'Priis-Chlepfä' (a contest between the best whip-crackers in the canton), which has since become an established part of the Greiflet tradition.

Image gallery

  • "Greifler" from Ingenbohl wear white shirts showing the logo of their association, Brunnen 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Double the size, double the noise: the "Jochtrychler" leads the procession in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Alongside a hundred or so bell-ringers, the Ingelbohl-Brunnen procession also features about a dozen "Geisselchlepfer" (whip-crackers), Brunnen 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • The "Seebner Greifler" are led by a man bearing a "Grotzli" (Christmas tree) on their way from Engiberg to Schwyz, 2007 © Peter Rickenbacher, Seewen
  • The "Plöder" is performed on a converted trailer at the confederation chapel in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • The traditional figures "Loränz vo Ingebohl" (left) and "Walter zu Schönebuech" during the "Plöder" in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Performance by the well-known local "Ländler" ensemble 'Mosibuebä' on the trailer in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • "Seebner Greifler" during their obligatory stop in the restaurant "Zum Weissen Kreuz", 2007 © Peter Rickenbacher, Seewen
  • A "Greifler" group from Brunnen, 1933 © Greiflervereinigung Ingenbohl-Brunnen
  • A sticker depicting Greifler in a collector's album on traditional Swiss customs, 1954 © Nestlé Historical Archives, Vevey
  • The whip-cracking competition known as "Priis-Chlepfä" is held on the main square in Schwyz on the morning of Epiphany, 2004 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Whip-cracking in style: "Geisselchlepfer" taking part in the competition, Schwyz, 2004 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • "Greifler" from Ingenbohl wear white shirts showing the logo of their association, Brunnen 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Double the size, double the noise: the "Jochtrychler" leads the procession in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Alongside a hundred or so bell-ringers, the Ingelbohl-Brunnen procession also features about a dozen "Geisselchlepfer" (whip-crackers), Brunnen 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • The "Seebner Greifler" are led by a man bearing a "Grotzli" (Christmas tree) on their way from Engiberg to Schwyz, 2007 © Peter Rickenbacher, Seewen
  • The "Plöder" is performed on a converted trailer at the confederation chapel in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • The traditional figures "Loränz vo Ingebohl" (left) and "Walter zu Schönebuech" during the "Plöder" in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • Performance by the well-known local "Ländler" ensemble 'Mosibuebä' on the trailer in Brunnen, 2008 © Hans Rothenfluh, Brunnen
  • "Seebner Greifler" during their obligatory stop in the restaurant "Zum Weissen Kreuz", 2007 © Peter Rickenbacher, Seewen
  • A "Greifler" group from Brunnen, 1933 © Greiflervereinigung Ingenbohl-Brunnen
  • A sticker depicting Greifler in a collector's album on traditional Swiss customs, 1954 © Nestlé Historical Archives, Vevey
  • The whip-cracking competition known as "Priis-Chlepfä" is held on the main square in Schwyz on the morning of Epiphany, 2004 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Whip-cracking in style: "Geisselchlepfer" taking part in the competition, Schwyz, 2004 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf

References and documentation

Publications
  • Brigitte Geiser: Das Geisselklepfen in der Schweiz (Schwyzer Hefte 10/11). Ed. Kulturkommission des Kantons Schwyz. Schwyz, 1977

  • Gitta Gsell: Bödälä. Dance the Rhythm. Ed. Reck Filmproduktion. Zürich, 2010 (DVD)

  • Hans Steinegger: Greiflet. In: Feste und Bräuche im Kanton Schwyz. Hans Steinegger, Josef Wiget. Schwyz, 1989, p. 212-219

Documentation
  • Greiflet

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