February 01st, 2023
Just an hour and a half by car (or 2 and a half by train) on the other side of the Breithorn, the tallest peak that you can see from the balcony, is the village of Lötschental.
Do you dare to cross the mountain? At Carnival, these Tschäggättä masked figures will appear in the Lötschental. These bestial creatures are in fact locals from the valley who wear old clothes inside out, with the fur facing outwards. They are covered by two pieces of sheepskin or goatskin, held together by a leather belt with a cow bell ("Trichla") usually hanging down from their leather belt.
Hiding behind their handmade wooden masks, they run alone or in groups through the narrow streets of the mountain villages and frighten those around them and play pranks. This tradition sometimes became so reckless that the Church repeatedly had to prohibit it. Today, the Tschäggättä chiefly roam the valley on "Dirty Thursday",(Shrove Thursday) and hunt down and frighten anyone who is still out on the streets. There is a masked parade in the village of Wiler on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.
The remote valley in the canton of Valais has only been connected to the outside world by a paved road since 1954. And so customs have survived here that are no longer known elsewhere. The Tschäggätta are the most spectacular proof of this.
In the mountain village of Blatten, the last town in the narrow valley, holidaymakers can see the best mask specimens. The "Maskenkeller" is a small museum and houses particularly impressive masks. https://www.loetschentalermuseum.ch/tragmaske-6/
No one really knows were the custom originated. However a story of the shady side of the valley with even poorer inhabitants is also often told: In order to be able to steal a few groceries from their more affluent neighbors on the sunny side without being recognized, they are said to have disguised themselves and thus established the custom.
You can do a mask carving workshop for 49CHF
The Carnival in Lötschental is from 03.02.2023 to 21.02.2023
Tschäggättä-Procession from Blatten to Ferden: 8pm 16. February
Carnival masquerade in Wiler: 3pm 18. February
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region