Gansabhauet in Sursee (LU)


Sursee: Hotel Bellevue am See

Sursee: Hotel Bellevue am See

Martinmas (November 11)

In the country town of Sursee in Canton Lucerne, a well known custom is celebrated. It is unique within Switzerland and thus attracts crowds of spectators.

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On Martinmas (November 11), a dead goose is hung feet down over a platform in front of the town hall. Young boys draw lots to have a turn at trying to knock the goose down with a blunt saber. They wear a purplish red robe, a mask in the shape of a sun, and are blindfolded. As only one attempt per boy is permitted, the spectators have ample opportunity to enjoy themselves before the goose is finally brought down and the winner applauded. Between turns, a number of children's contests take place: the children scale up a stripped pine tree, hop around in jute sacks, or compete to see who can make the ugliest face. The children's games have been part of the festivities since 1880, whereas the actual origin of the Gansabhauet, or knocking down the goose, first mentioned in 1821, is lost in the shadows of history. It may be the remainder of an ancient game which was once played with fowl all over Europe. Since 1997, a lighted parade through the darkened old city has been added to the custom practiced in the afternoon.

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