Little light of the turnip

I don’t think I truly understood the importance of family traditions until I became a mom and whilst some of my favourite childhood traditions have long passed, preserved only in my mind, others live on and some are just beginning, like this magical little festival of lights. 

Räbelichtli, “rabe” or “rübe” meaning “turnip” and “liecht” or “licht” meaning “light”.  The “li” at the end of the word is the diminutive (and typical of the Swiss – everything has a “li” at the end of it), making it the “little light of the turnip”.

This is the sweetest tradition where children hollow out and carve pictures and patterns into turnips, fill them with candles and parade around the village singing songs.  

We live in a small village however the planning that goes into this little event is huge.  At 6pm the village streets are closed off to traffic and the street lights are switched off.  Residents decorate their homes as well as the pavements with candles, whilst watching and waving to the kids as they pass by.

We have two schools in our village, each school starts at the opposite end of the village and then they meet in the middle for a light dinner.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture any images from the evening but our afternoon looked a little like this …


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