Achetringele in Laupen (BE)

Laupen

The origin of this New Year's Eve custom in the Bernese town of Laupen can be traced back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Originally it took place on the day of Christmas. Since it was a rather noisy and sometimes even rowdy celebration, town officials repeatedly tried to forbid it, without success. The local priest finally managed to have the date changed to New Year's Eve.

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Participating schoolboys meet at the castle and then proceed down to the village. Three different groups are easily recognizable: Achetringeler, or bell ringers, who swing or rattle large bells; Bäsemanne, or broom men, who carry long poles to which juniper branches have been attached at one end; and Blaateremannli, or bladder men, who carry pigs' bladders filled with air.

They make several stops. Each time, the leader of the procession bids a rhymed farewell to the old year and wishes the crowd a happy new one. While the rhyme is being said, the «broom men» wave their brooms about in the crowd. At the end of the procession the «broom men» and the «bladder men», now both armed with inflated pigs' bladders, proceed to «beat» the onlookers, especially young girls, until their weapons are in shreds.

The contrast between the quiet procession, with its cheerful greetings, and the ensuing rowdy part seems to indicate that the custom has had a long development over time, possibly due to adult intervention.

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