A - Z 2020 Switzerland - Yodeling

Welcome back to my Swiss themed A- Z, Today's post is all about yodeling. I couldn't not do it, right? Aparently this is one of the top stereotypes about Swiss people:

  • We live off chocolate and cheese
  • We are rich
  • We can yodel

Just like not every Scotsman wears a kilt and plays the bagpipes, the average Swiss does not yodel either - best case they are just enough musical to chant at a sports event ;-)

There are, however, traditional people, typically in rural areas who yodel, play the alphorn

 or the Schwyzerörgeli, a special kind of accordion, 

and if they do so for a special occasion they dress up in the Tracht, the traditional custome of the area.

While I'm not a fan of this music genre, and I cringe every time there's a yodel playing in the high tech airport shuttle that takes you to the terminal at Zurich International Airport, I have to admit, it adds to the atmosphere if you're in a the mountains.

The ultimate event to experience a variety of Swiss traditions the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival. It only takes place every third year, and the venue is a different one every time.

In 2019 the Eidgenössische Schwing- und Älplerfest took place in Zug, the city where my son plays hockey. The festivities include Schwingen, Hornussen and Steinstossen. 

What are they?

Hornussen is nicknamed farmer's tennis / golf. It gets its name from the puck which is known as a Hornuss (hornet). When hit, it can whizz through the air at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).

Steinstossen is like putting the shot, except it's not a metal ball you're throwing, but a heavy stone. At the above mentioned festival there are three disciplines: 

20 kg (44 pounds) taking a run-up
40 kg (88 pounds) from a standing position
83.5 kg (184 pounds) either way (who masters that, anyway..?)

Schwingen is Swiss Wrestling, two big and strong guys wearing wear Schwingerhosen ("wrestling breeches") with belts that are used for taking holds, go at each other until  the winner holds the opponent's pants with at least one hand, and both the opponent's shoulders touch the ground. By tradition the winner brushes the sawdust off the loser's back after the match.

At a Schwing festival, every Schwinger wrestles eight opponents, The two Schwingers with the highest number of points after seven matches get to the Schlussgang (last round). 

The winner of this tournament is proclaimed Schwingerkönig and receives a bull as his prize.

Wow, I am not really interested in all of this, but searching for these videos made me somewhat sentimental, and who knows, if I loved abroad long enough, I might tear up watching it? When I lived in California and August 1st (Swiss national holiday) was approaching, I begged my roommate to join me for a fondue at the Swiss Chalet!

How do you like our folklore? (Don't hold back good or bad, hahaha!)

This was my second last post, can you believe it? Come back tomorrow for the letter Z, I'll take you to Zermatt, and you'll get to see the famous Matterhorn!


  1. I would love to visit and hear them yodel in person

  2. I think it is important for every culture to have icons of their identity. Fun and silly things are better than some alternatives. The alphorns make sense with the mountains and communication. I'm sure the other traditions originated with some necessity as well. It's nice to hear how other cultures celebrate their holidays and traditions.

  3. Yodel has a beautiful sound! So does the accordeon with a fun name ;)
    Y is for Young

  4. I like the Schwyzerörgeli guys. Love me some accordian!

  5. I liked the music in all the videos that you shared although it's probably best in small doses at events and celebrations. It's nice to have traditions. Weekends In Maine

  6. I enjoyed the alphorn. Never knew it could make such sweet music.

    Suzy Someday Somewhere Letter Y

  7. Great post! I do "love" a stereotype. I hear you have the finest banks, watches, and multi-purpose knives. ;)

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

  8. Congratulations on finishing your A to Z! There is something kind of nostalgic about yodeling. I'd love to see some in person.


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