On the evening of 24 December, a group of men wrapped in cloaks gathers on the hill. When the clock strikes nine, the procession begins to move. The men stride through the village in rows of three. They are led by the 'Bäsemaa', who, in contrast to the others, wears a white beard and carries a long pole from which a soot cloth is suspended. The other men wear cylinders that are up to four metres high. These oversized headpieces emerged as part of a light-hearted competition between participants to construct the highest cylinder. They are made of black cardboard tubes held in place with roofing battens and attached to the body with straps. The men do not talk during the procession. Around their necks hang large bells that toll regularly in time with their footsteps. There is something spooky about this nocturnal procession through the village. The procession ends after around 45 minutes and the bells are silenced. The participants then disperse – some to restaurants and others to attend a midnight service.
Daniel Tschopp: Nüünichlingler in Ziefen, 1970
Albert Bärtsch: Schweizer Feste und Bräuche. Volksfestkultur im Jahreslauf. Wädenswil, 2009
Franz Stohler: Magische Ziefener Nünichlingler. Arlesheim, 2008
Eduard Strübin: Jahresbrauch im Zeitenlauf. Kulturbilder aus der Landschaft Basel. Liestal, 1991
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