Swiss folklore

Modern Fasnacht costume from Basel. Fasnacht, a mixture of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs, is a pre-Lenten Carnival.

Swiss folklore is used to describe a collection of local stories, celebrations and customs of the alpine and sub-alpine peoples that occupy Switzerland. The country of Switzerland is made up of several distinct cultures including German, French, Italian as well as the Romansh speaking population of Graubünden. Each group has its own unique folkloric tradition.

Switzerland has always occupied a crossroads of Europe. While Switzerland has existed as an alliance and country since 1291, the Swiss as a culture and people existed well before this time. Before the Swiss, the region was occupied by Pagan and later Christian Germanic tribes which would become the Swiss. Before the Germanic peoples, the region was occupied by Roman and Gallo-Roman populations. Finally, before the Romans the Celtic Helvetii lived in what would become Switzerland. In addition to conquest, Switzerland has been a crossroad of Europe since at least the Roman Empire. Constant movement of cultures and ideas into Switzerland has created a rich and varied folklore tradition.

The study of folklore (Folkloristics) is known as Volkskunde in German. The study of Swiss folklore originates in the 19th century. The central figure of its academic development is Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer, who founded the Swiss Society for Volkskunde in 1896.

Folklore and customs

Tatzelwurm fountain in Kobern-Gondorf


The Abbey of St. Gall, founded on the site of his hermitage

The legends of Switzerland include historic and semi-mythic people and places that shaped the history and culture of the nation.


Old Swiss Confederacy

A fresco showing William Tell and his son after he shot an apple off his son's head.

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 Keightley, Thomas (1870). The Fairy Mythology Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries.
  2. 1 2 Customs and Traditions in Switzerland accessed 20 May 2008
  4. Plättner, Anya (15 November 2006). "Rääbeliechtli, wo gaasch hii?". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  5.  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Gall". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  6.  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Magnus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. Leo, Hermann (1886). Der heilige Fridolin. Herder. pp. 163–167.
  8. Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, Leipzig und Wien, Fourth edition, 1885–1892, entry on "Tell, Wilhelm," pp. 576–77 in volume 15. In German.
  9. Stanser Verkommnis in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
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