Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Räbeliechtli

It was our village's Räbeliechtli procession last Friday, a traditional lantern procession signalling the end of the harvest, the lanterns being made out of hollowed out beets with candles inside. The procession takes place in the early evening and the village's streetlamps are all turned off for the occasion. I wasn't able to go to the procession last year, but I knew the score and, of course, had been well-informed about date, time and where to purchase said beets by the village newspaper. So I spent most of Friday afternoon, with intermittent help from my 7-year old son, hollowing out the insides of my beets and "carving" a few star shapes into the sides. No mean feat, given that the beets are pretty solid and your shapes have to be etched into the sides without completely cutting through to ensure that the wind doesn't whistle through and blow out your candle (more about that later). Anyway, despite feeling under the weather that afternoon, we gave it our all and were quite happy with our modest efforts. OK, one or two more shapes might have been nice, but this is how they turned out:



Imagine my embarassment then, when we showed up at the starting point to see that everyone else had probably spent a whole week carving and shaping and etching their lanterns, so decorative they were. There were fancy shapes, wavy lines, zig zags, swirls, even children's names. Feeling rather inadequate, I kept telling myself it was the taking part that mattered, but, to make matters worse, a storm was blowing up and the wind kept blowing our candles out. Cursing myself for using cheap IKEA tea light candles and having failed to bring along spare matches, I must have looked a bit dejected. And here's the thing; no-one else's candles were going out. Then someone let me in on the secret - they were all using BATTERY-POWERED candles in their lanterns....Duh! Fortunately someone had some spare (battery-powered) candles and one of my tea lights took pity on me and decided to stay alight for the whole of the procession. Despite everything, a good time was had and needless to say I will first in line for those battery-powered tea lights next year.....

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