Monday, January 4, 2010


You know how your expectations for how amazing New Years Eve is always going to be and then the realization of how lame the night actually turns out to be? Well, finally (it only took 30 years and living in another country) to make that NYE dream come true.

Ever since our trip to Herisau for the Alpabfahrt this past Fall, we have been planning a return trip for their Silvesterklausen extravaganza on NYE morning. We are so lucky to have made such incredible friends here in Switzerland and even cooler is the fact that one of them is from this festive area ( rock!). We were extended an invitation to join HP, Stacie, and the family out at their house in Herisau to bring in the New Year with a little käsekuchen, wurst, and prosecco.

Who could say no to such an offer? We boarded the train early, early and headed to the land where on this day men dress up as women or as trees with elaborate cityscape hats.

If the invitation of coming to their house wasn't enough, Hanspeter's Mutter (being from Appenzell where this tradition originated) had a group of friends who actually do the whole costume thing and on their trek from city to city they stopped at the house for a private performance. We all scrambled around throwing on scarves and jackets while at the same time switching camera lenses and running down the stairs to not miss a beat of the dancing and singing.

The men were incredible...or should I say ladies? The performance went on for about 10 minutes where the men dance in a circle, swinging their cow bells, twirling around, and yodeling beautifully. At the same time, Hanspeter's Eltern would offer them white wine through a straw to keep them going for the rest of their journey. How these men wear these heavy costumes (sometimes close to 100 lbs.), sing and dance from city to city (starting at about 3am), and drink white wine (from a straw) the entire time -- I have no idea. What you won't do to keep your traditions alive.

After the private show, we made our way down to the center of town to join the rest of the crowds trying to get a peep of these spirits. The streets were packed. The glühwein was flowin'. And, every so often another pack of tree people or drag queens would come barreling through the streets.

I know I am going to get the reasoning wrong for exactly why they do this every year, but basically each one of these costumes represents either a "good" or a "bad" spirit and the singing/dancing is to keep the "bad" spirits away, bringing in a Happy New Year.

*This was only the start to our Silvestersauber...stay tuned for the rest of the story. More tomorrow.

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