November 10 – Rebenlichter in Switzerland

Posted November 10, 2013

Long before there was such a nation as the United States of America, let alone kids in the U.S. carving pumpkins into lanterns, kids in Switzerland were carving beets and/or turnips into lanterns.

Beet and turnip lanterns seem pretty challenging to me, because these root vegetables are solid rather than hollow fruits filled with pulp and seeds—and because root vegetables tend to be so much smaller than pumpkins!

Apparently beets and turnips were among the last vegetables harvested, which is perhaps why the Swiss focused their harvest processions on these particular roots. These days, large beets and turnips are grown especially for Rebenlichter.

Kids hollow out their beets or turnips, and carve patterns into their surfaces. These days, they generally carve their lanterns in school. Later, they light candles inside their lanterns as they walk in a procession through the streets of their town. All of the ordinary lights of the town are turned off so that everyone can enjoy the lantern light!

I have read that the experience of walking through their dark town with just the light from root lanterns (but around 10,000 root lanterns!), singing along with the other children in the procession, is a beautiful and memorable experience for Swiss children. It sounds really great, actually!

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