Epiphany singing


Category:
Oral expressions
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

Around Epiphany (6 January), groups of schoolchildren in Catholic areas dress up as the Three Kings and make door-to-door visits. They sing new and old Epiphany songs in unison or in several voices, and include in their repertoire religious melodies from the 17th century. The composition of the group and their entourage varies in each community, often including a star bearer, servant or soldier. The singers wear colourful costumes and gleaming crowns as they walk through the night. The star, attached to a pole, is usually lit from inside and normally rotates. Instead of being rewarded with gifts in kind, the singers collect money for children’s charities and for buying sweets. Sometimes CMB is written on the top of door frames to bless the home.

In Brigels the Three Kings boast a uniformed entourage, while in Riom the group of singers includes King Herod and servants carrying baskets. In the southern valleys and in Ticino (for example in Capriasca), the Three Kings sing the song “Noi siamo i tre re” in homes in the evenings, and in some places there is a mounted procession (“cavalcata”). “Epifania” is also associated with the noisy custom of heralding the start of carnival with bells and other instruments.

Image gallery

  • Epiphany singers in Ilanz © Iso Tuor, 2012
  • An Epiphany singer in Ilanz © Iso Tuor, 2012
  • Epiphany singing in Domat/Ems © Robert Weggler
  • Epiphany singing in Domat/Ems © Robert Weggler
  • Epiphany singing in Breil/Brigels © Bistgaun Cathomen
  • Epiphany singing in Dardin © Bistgaun Cathomen
  • Epiphany singing in Medel Curaglia © Björn Sundin, 2011
  • Epiphany singing in Sevgein © Armin Spescha, 2011
  • Epiphany singing in Riom © Demarmels-Schmid, 2009
  • Capriasca: Three modern Kings © Maurizio Cattaneo, 2002
  • Capriasca: The collected earnings of the Kings © Maurizio Cattaneo, 2002
  • Epiphany singers in Ilanz © Iso Tuor, 2012
  • An Epiphany singer in Ilanz © Iso Tuor, 2012
  • Epiphany singing in Domat/Ems © Robert Weggler
  • Epiphany singing in Domat/Ems © Robert Weggler
  • Epiphany singing in Breil/Brigels © Bistgaun Cathomen
  • Epiphany singing in Dardin © Bistgaun Cathomen
  • Epiphany singing in Medel Curaglia © Björn Sundin, 2011
  • Epiphany singing in Sevgein © Armin Spescha, 2011
  • Epiphany singing in Riom © Demarmels-Schmid, 2009
  • Capriasca: Three modern Kings © Maurizio Cattaneo, 2002
  • Capriasca: The collected earnings of the Kings © Maurizio Cattaneo, 2002

Video

Epiphany singing in Rueras: La steila compara als retgs cun splendur © www.gloria.tv

Epiphany singing in Sedrun: La steila compara als retgs cun splendur © www.gloria.tv, 8. Januar 2011

Epiphany singing in Stierva © RTR, 2006

Epiphany singing in Breil © RTR, 2011

Audio

Epiphany singers in Medel Curaglia: Nus essen ils sabis vegnin digl Orient (Kurt Mikula) © Kurt Mikula/ Aufnahme: Björn Sundin, 8. Januar 2011

References and documentation

Publications
  • Riscopriamo insieme «A cantà ra Befana». In: Mosaico. Periodico della Scuola Media di Tesserete no. 6 (dicembre). Tesserete, 1991

  • Babania, Buania. In: Dicziunari Rumantsch Grischun vol. 2, Ed. Società retorumantscha. Chur, 1947-1957

  • Franco Ferrari: Quando si andava a cantar la Befana. In: Giornale del Popolo, 7 gennaio 1997

  • Walter Heim: Volksbrauch im Kirchenjahr heute (Schriften der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde Band 67). Basel, 1983

  • Alfons Maissen: Dreikönigsbräuche in der Surselva. In: Brauchtum, Handwerk und Kultur (Romanica Raetica 14). Ed. Societad Retorumantscha. Chur, 1998

  • Gion Arthur Manetsch: Ils treis sogns retgs en tiara romontscha. In: Das Jahr der Schweiz in Fest und Brauch. Zürich, 1981

  • Aldo Morosoli: Sulla via dei Re Magi. In: Rivista di Lugano no. 52, vol. 70. Lugano, 2008

  • Dietz-Rüdiger Moser: Bräuche und Feste durch das ganze Jahr. Gepflogenheiten der Gegenwart in kulturgeschichtlichen Zusammenhängen. Freiburg, 2002

  • Hans Moser: Volksbräuche im geschichtlichen Wandel. Ergebnisse aus fünfzig Jahren volkskundlicher Quellenforschung. München, 1985

  • Silvio Savi: Feste e tradizioni della Pieve Capriasca (Ticino). In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde vol. 36. Basel, 1938

Multimedia
  • Co glei stau a nus de car 
    Dreikönigslieder ... 
    Schüler von Zignau singen 1961 das geistliche Volkslied «Co glei stau a nus de car» auf
    Ref. Swiss National Sound Archives:
    18BD1345 Tr. A1

Documentation