Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today is "Chalanda Marz"

Today is "Chalanda Marz"


(First of March), in Engadine, canton of Grisons March 1

On the first of March boys of the Engadine "ring out the winter" and announce spring's arrival with a picturesque old custom. The youths put on herdsmen's costumes with wide leather belts from which they suspend as many large cow bells as they can collect. Smaller bells hang from their necks or are strapped across their chests. Other lads, who represent the cows, put bells around their necks and follow the "herdsmen." The children go about from house to house, clanging their bells with enough uproar to make winter speedily retreat, and serenade housewives with an old spring song:

The first of March, the first of April,
Let the cows out of the stable.
Grow grass, grow!
Go away, snow, go!

Housewives give the boys such gifts as freshly baked cakes, apples, small rolls and eggs--sometimes a few coppers. The food is pooled for a jolly evening feast, followed by games and dancing. The money goes to the village schoolmaster who uses it, later, for a class picnic or excursion.

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