Chalandamarz, Pschuuri and Co.
Customs and Traditions
A 10-metre-high column of fire rises up into the night sky. Small tongues of flame and burning bundles of straw rise gently into the air. There is a crackling and a smell of petrol. A few hundred people stand around the inferno. Not just curious onlookers, but excited guests, locals and, above all, children. They sing together “L’Hom Strom es ün bel hom” and celebrate Scuol’s millennia-old custom.
In the Engadin, in the Val Müstair, in the Val Bregaglia (Calendimarzo), in the Val Poschiavo (Pupocc da marz) and in Sursés, people uphold an ancient spring tradition which is thought to date back to antiquity: Chalandamarz. On 1 March, the brightly costumed schoolchildren welcome the spring with the jingling of bells and the cracking of whips.
Trer Schibettas means something like “disk flinging” in English. It is an ancient tradition in which glowing wooden disks are flung off a mountainside into the valley below using sticks. For the locals, the purpose of this tradition is to drive out the winter. Today, young men dedicate their glowing disks to their beloved, or to a young woman they hope will become their beloved.
Pschuuri, Bschuri, Bschürälä, Pschuurimittwucha (Ash Wednesday) are expressions that are still known today in many Walser areas of Graubünden. What is meant is the soot blackening of single women and young people. In Splügen, this custom is still alive in its old form and is celebrated by the young people.