Swiss tradition kills the goose that...

It took six tries last year to behead the goose Keystone

"Behead the goose" - the name of the autumn festival in the town of Sursee in canton Lucerne - leaves little doubt about the nature of the main attraction.

This content was published on November 1, 2002 - 10:03

On November 11, a select group of blindfolded and sword wielding individuals watched by a large gathering of onlookers take turns trying to "Behead the Goose".

The bizarre ritual begins at 3pm in the town centre when a slaughtered goose is brought to a wooden stage in front of the town hall, where it's strung up.

Wearing a customary red robe and sun mask over the blindfold, the executioner is allowed to take one whack with a blunt sword to behead the bird.

The winner of the rather gruesome competition gets to cook the goose.

The origins of the event are unclear but it's believed to have been part of a medieval ceremony that accompanied the handing over of a payment in kind to the landlord, traditionally on November 11.

Lantern procession

A procession of lanterns carved out of beets is the highlight of a festival held in canton Zurich, and one which is increasing popular with children across the country.

The largest and most traditional festival is the "Räbechilbi" in the town of Richterswil on Lake Zurich.

At exactly 6:30pm - this year on November 9 - more than 1,000 children and adults will proceed through the darkened town carrying impressively sculpted beet lanterns.

Tradition has it that the town's women in the 19th century used hollowed-out beets to light the way to the evening church service.

Onions galore

Two weeks later, Bern hosts its popular onion market, whose origins date back to the 15th century. It's held on the last Monday of the month, this year on November 25.

At dawn, farmers from surrounding areas converge on the city with truckloads of onions and garlic, and other produce.

They heap the decorative garlands of onions high on to tables. Many are twisted into fantastic shapes and figures.

The onions are also the chief ingredient in tasty onion tarts, which are offered for sale with spicy mulled wine to keep out the cold.

According to legend, the market came into being after farmers from the neighbouring Fribourg region helped in the cleanup following the city fire of 1405.

Wine fair

Zurich is the place to be for wine lovers from October 31 to November 14.

Connoisseurs boarding any of a dozen ships anchored at Zurich's Burkliplatz have the opportunity to taste around 4,000 different wines from more than 20 countries.

Now in its 49th year, the exhibition "Expovina" invites the public to taste and buy, or simply drink in the atmosphere aboard a decked-out ship.

The right wine can accompany a meal at any of the ships' restaurants, which offer a wide choice for the discerning palate - from Italian fare to Swiss fondue.

Fashionable Lucerne

November in Lucerne means music and fashion. The prestigious Lucerne Festival holds its "Piano" event from November 20 to 24.

Top acts will perform "classical and modern piano music on modern and historical instruments" which the festival organisers say is unique in Europe.

Also in Lucerne is "Gwand", the largest fashion event of its kind in Switzerland, which attracts big names from the world of fashion while promoting young designers.

It runs this year from November 28 to 30.


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