Tschäggättä Parade To Celebrate Carnival In The Lötschental Valley

If you go to the the Lötschental Valley‘s Carnival parade in Wilder, Switzerland, be ready for Tschäggättä to surprise and scare you.  Tschäggättä roam the streets for days before and after the parades creating mischief and scaring unsuspecting victims.

Witches sold the Lötschentaler Chiächlini, the traditional fatty, sugary Carnival/Fat Tuesday/Fat Thursday treat.  Although I couldn’t find any mention of Lötschentaler Chiächlini, I found this recipe for Swiss Carnival Cookies (Fasnachtsküchlein) that seems similar.  They were good, a cross between a donut and a cookie.  They would have been even better fresh out of the fryer.  I wanted to dip mine in chocolate.

Lots of bands helped make the atmosphere festive.  They played everything from versions of Metallica, Bon Jovi and Kiss to Lady Gaga.  It was easy to pick out the foreigners because they were they ones dancing like idiots to the music.

It must have been a long day for the marching bands and at over a mile in altitude, it was important for them to stay hydrated.

Although Tschäggättä were everywhere, there was much more to the parade.

People of all ages took part and even the smaller participants wore costumes.  Many of the floats appeared to have a political bent.  This one seemed to compare the value of the Euro to that of shredded paper or confetti.

Sarkozy is always present for discussions on the Euro.  He didn’t talk much though as he was passing out tasty beverages.

Traditionally, Tschäggättä were only the villages unmarried men.  Although there is no way of knowing who (or what) is under the furs and masks, Tschäggättä has reportedly expanded to married men and children.  These spooky figures were all women.  Their eeriness appeared better suited for haunting than mischief-making.

Both participants and onlookers had a jolly good time.  Maybe some people were having a bit too much fun.  This costumed observer was scolded by an older Swiss gentleman for kicking snow.  Über Swiss.

Costumed characters on floats tossed confetti, blew bubbles, sang and handed out drinks, cookies and candy.

I got into the fun by scooping up confetti during a lull in the action and tossing it on our unsuspecting friends.  Luckily, I was able to scoop up my wallet that went flying.  

I wasn’t the only one horsing around.  These little observers came prepared with silly string to spray on the parade’s participants.

This group chose global warming as their theme.  The tiny children dressed up as snow balls were adorable and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The arc needed some minor repairs right in front of us.  We assisted by holding their large bottles of Sangria.  They rewarded us with some.  The costumes were an example of cultural differences.  I don’t know if we would see such painted faces or Fu Manshus in the United States.

The parade finished with a procession of over 100 Tschäggättä!

Sometimes, Carnival celebrations aren’t appropriate for children of families.  Tschäggättä managed to have something for everyone and still be tons of fun.  The atmosphere was playful, cheery and festive.  Everyone from young to old made merry in a ridiculously beautiful setting.

69 thoughts on “Tschäggättä Parade To Celebrate Carnival In The Lötschental Valley

    • There is controversy about how Tschäggättä began. Some believe the practice originated as a heathen attempt to drive out winter. Others argue that the clothing mimics that of 11th century robbers that gave birth to or were imitated by residents. Another possibility is Tschaggatta originated from portrayals of the devil. Regardless of its beginnings, it was once an officially sanctioned way for locals to let off steam.

  1. Looks like a lot of fun!! I saw something similar happening in the Netherlands last Sunday on a webcam. I live in Nevada but I love looking at city views through webcams around the world since I can’t afford to travel as of now.

  2. Woooow, those are some intricate costumes! But I def think that the marching bands stole the show!!! Okay yes, this is all my inner band geek coming out, but that’s really marching in style! Must’ve been a real blast. I wish we had gotten to paint our faces just once when I marched. 😉

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  4. Very different from Kaua’i! Today we have our version of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, but no parades, no costumes….just a doughnut-like treat. You can read about us on kauaikolea.wordpress.com

  5. LOVELY imressions you captured there.
    I can hardly get over how strongly the Tschäggättä remind me of asian Oni – they’re just as stunningly creative (or rather “beautiful”, even if it may be in a strange way).
    Thanks a lot for sharing this experience with us.

  6. What can be said that hasn’t been said already as I wholeheartedly agree with each comment. Tschaggatta Parade is now officially on my Bucket List. Thanks for acquainting us with this remarkable custom!

  7. I lived in Ticino for two years, so unfortunately missed out on all the good Swiss festivals happening elsewhere! We celebrated Rabadan, rather than Tschaggatta. I love the costumes- thank you for documenting your Swiss experience!

      • Well, Bellinzona is a FANTASTIC city to just wander around in…there are three castles you can easily make a day trip to, and the city itself is super easy to get around in. Lugano is on Lago di Lugano, and is so breath taking. I recommend hiking up San Salvatore if you go, or wandering around the lake to Gandria, a small Swiss village that you can only get to by walking or boats – lots of small cafes to sit and relax in. If you go in May or the summer, get to Valle Versazca, there are some glacial rivers to dunk in and a hike to a gorgeous waterfall- also a great place to picnic! If you want more details feel free to contact me at katevang.3@gmail.com.

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  9. This looks absolutely amazing, so much fun, so bright and colourful! Costumes look fascinating, I need to travel more.

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  11. Well, Bellinzona is a FANTASTIC city to just wander around in…there are three castles you can easily make a day trip to, and the city itself is super easy to get around in.

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