Silvesterchlausen


Category:
Social practices
  • Oral expressions
  • Performing arts
Canton:

Description

On New Year's Eve and on 13 January ("Old New Year's Eve"), an impressive winter custom sees celebrations in the hinterland of Ausserrhoden. "Schuppeln", or groups of men dressed up as “Chläuse”, make their way around the local farms. Upon reaching a farm, they form a circle, ring their bells in time with each other and perform a wordless yodel (a "Zäuerli"). They wish the family a happy New Year and are rewarded with money before moving on to the next farm.

Nowadays the New Year Chläuse are divided into three groups: the beautiful, the ugly and the beautifully ugly. The beautiful Chläuse wear full traditional dress decorated with silver lacing. On their heads they wear bonnets or hats elaborately decorated with glass beads, foil and cord and depicting scenes of everyday life. The ugly Chläuse wear shaggy coats covered in twigs, leaves or straw and cover their faces with demonic masks made of papier mache. The beautifully ugly Chläuse also use natural materials for their costumes, but theirs are intricately designed, just like those of the beautiful. Most of the members of the groups represent male figures and wear cowbells around their necks or carry two large dairy bells on both their front and back. There are at least two female figures in each group. These figures are called "Rollenweiber" and wear up to thirteen round, slitted "Rollen" bells around their torsos. The custom is very much a male affair, with the participation of girls extending only to children's groups.

Image gallery

  • Beautiful Chläuse on Urnäsch village square © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • Crowds on New Year’s Eve in Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • A group of beautiful Chläuse yodelling in Ruppen, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1980er Jahre
  • Ugly Chläuse in Geren, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1970er Jahre
  • An group of ugly Chläuse yodelling in Bindli, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2005
  • A beautifully ugly Chlaus in Bären, Urnäsch, wishing villagers a happy New Year © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1980er Jahre
  • A group of beautifully ugly Chläuse in Boden, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2006
  • A children’s group in Hofbach, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • Orderly marching between houses in Schwantelen, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2006
  • The name “Chlause” also refers to the rhythmical ringing of the bells (here in Urnäsch valley) © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2005
  • Beautiful Chläuse on Urnäsch village square © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • Crowds on New Year’s Eve in Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • A group of beautiful Chläuse yodelling in Ruppen, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1980er Jahre
  • Ugly Chläuse in Geren, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1970er Jahre
  • An group of ugly Chläuse yodelling in Bindli, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2005
  • A beautifully ugly Chlaus in Bären, Urnäsch, wishing villagers a happy New Year © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 1980er Jahre
  • A group of beautifully ugly Chläuse in Boden, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2006
  • A children’s group in Hofbach, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2007
  • Orderly marching between houses in Schwantelen, Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2006
  • The name “Chlause” also refers to the rhythmical ringing of the bells (here in Urnäsch valley) © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2005

Video

From the film “Gelebte Tradition, Brauchtum in Appenzellerland” (“Living traditions: customs in Appenzellerland”) © Andreas Baumberger, 2004

Audio

“Zäuerli” (a form of yodelling without words) with the characteristic bells ringing in perfect time (from the CD “Chlausezäuerli”) © Chlausegruppe Stein AR, 1997

A group of Chläuse from Urnäsch singing “Chemifeger Fässlers”, a two-part “Zäuerli” by the local Chläuse family Fässler and one of the few songs with a name (from the CD “Am Alte Silveschter z’Urnäsch”). © Cyrill Schläpfer/CSR Records Zürich, 1991

References and documentation

Publications
  • Regina Bendix, Theo Nef: Silvesterklausen in Urnäsch. St.Gallen, 1984

  • Hans Hürlemann: Brauchtum im Appenzellerland. Herisau, 1996

  • Hans Hürlemann: Urnäsch. Landschaft – Brauchtum – Geschichte. Herisau, 2006

  • Thomas Lüchinger: Guets Neus. Sschöö, wüescht ond schööwüescht (Film). 2011

  • Werner Mezger: St. Nikolaus zwischen Kult und Klamauk. Ostfildern, 1993

  • Thomas Rickenmann: Silvesterchlausen (Film). 2011

Documentation
  • Silvesterchlausen

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Last modification: 23.07.2012
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