Hom Strom in Scuol (GR)

Scuol

Scuol - Scuol-Schlivera

Scuol - Scuol-Schlivera

S-Charl

S-Charl

Scuol

Scuol

Motta Naluns - Mit Blick Richtung Piz Champatsch

Motta Naluns - Mit Blick Richtung Piz Champatsch

Scuol - Grisons, Switzerland

Scuol - Grisons, Switzerland

In the morning of the first Saturday in February, the older schoolchildren meet at the village square in Scuol to build the Hom Strom, or man of straw. They twist together thick strands of rye which has been hand-threshed and especially prepared for this purpose. The strands are then twined around a telephone pole which is almost eight meters (24 ft) long. The work must be done by noon, at which time the bundle should have reached a diameter of approximately two meters.

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In the afternoon a group of adults place the Hom Strom in a specially prepared hole in a field just outside the village. He must be well guarded so the boys from the next village cannot light him before his time! In the evening when the tower clock strikes eight, the oldest boys throw balls of fire, which are rags drenched in petroleum and which have up to now illuminated the grounds, at the Hom Strom and set him aflame. The children and adults sing the Hom Strom song, written by a native poet. Half an hour later, the spirit of winter is consumed and everyone walks back to the village.

Little is known about the origin of this custom, which gives scholars and connoisseurs of folklore all the more reason to speculate. The rather obvious association made with the Catholic holy day of Candlemas (February 2) is almost certainly secondary. The origin is more likely to be found in cultic (heathen) practices in the shadows of time.

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