Klausjagen

Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland

The Klausjagen festival in Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland, culminates with a full day of activities. The children’s parade is in the afternoon, followed in the evening by the mens’s Klausjagen that goes through the village two times, repeating in the early hours of the morning. The parade begins with men cracking sheep whips, then the lighted iffelen, followed by Samichlaus himself, then men with cow bells, and last cow horns.

Festival mosaic
Festival mosaic: horns, whips, iffelen, Samichlaus, Schmutzli, bells, whips

Schülerklausjagen

The children’s parade begins with boys cracking whips, followed by children wearing iffelen.

Boys cracking whips
Children in iffelen following boy with whip
Children with iffelen

Children wearing iffelen crowd the street.

Children in iffelen

Then comes Samichlaus himself, with a Schmutzli and donkey

Samichlaus, Schmutzli and donkey

Klausjagen

1700 men take part in the Klausjagen evening and night processions. First come men cracking long sheep whips.

Cracking whip
Cracking whip

One hundred eighty young men dance, wearing tall, lighted iffelen.

Dancing with iffelen
Iffelen
Dancing with iffelen

Then come Samichlaus and Schmutzli, followed by trumpeters.

Samichlaus and Schmutzli

Seven hundred Klausjäger ring huge heavy cow bells, ringing together as one.

Men with heavy cow bells

Last come two hundred men blowing cow horns in unison: two short tones, then one long.

Blowing cow horns
Blowing cow horns

More about iffele

Iffelen are 3–6 feet tall.

Man next to iffele
Men standing next ot iffele
Lighted iffele

Iffelen are made from heavy pasteboard. Highly detailed designs are cut out; usually with St. Nicholas one side and IHS for Jesus Christ on the other. Colored tissue paper is put inside over the cut-outs. Candles light iffelen from the inside.

Three iffelen
Candles inside iffelen
Iffele with Samichlaus
Lighted iffele

Photos: Jo Hermanns, used by permission

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