Zibelemärit in Bern (BE)
Fourth Monday in November On the fourth Monday in November, the upper part of the old city of Bern between the railway station and the Bundesplatz, the square facing the Parliament buildings, is transformed into a giant marketplace. At hundreds of stalls, farmers from roundabout, especially from the lake region of the canton of Fribourg, sell their plaited strings of onions (over 100 tons worth), along with other winter vegetables, drupes, and nuts.
The market venders offer their usual merchandise for sale as well. In the afternoon and evening, once school is out and working hours are over, carnival spirit takes hold of the crowd. There are confetti battles, people in disguise, and small groups who appear as jesters in the restaurants to do take-offs on events which have occurred during the past year. Satirical leaflets also appear in the streets at this time.
The Zibelemärit, or onion market, is all that remains of a 14-day autumn (Martinmas) market held as far back as the fifteenth century. A frequently heard legend actually dates it back to the city fire in 1405. The farmers from the region who helped with the tidying up were given the right to sell their products in the city. However, the first autumn market was held only in 1439, while vegetables were already offered for sale at the weekly markets. The first documented mention of onions appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century, at the time a railway line was being built from the farming areas into the city.