Silvesterchlausen Held in New Glarus
January 15, 2022
January 20, 2022
On Saturday, January 15, 2022, New Glarus celebrated an ancient celebration of New Year's Eve, Silversterchlausen. St. Sylvester's Day, called Silvester in Switzerland, is New Year's Eve. The modern Gregorian calendar places it on December 31st. But, before the 1600s, Switzerland used the old Julian calendar which placed the holiday on January 13th. Silversterchlausen is still observed on the old date from the Julian calendar. In Appenzell, Switzerland, Silvester is celebrated with Silversterchlausen, a procession through town filled with yodeling, bells, and garish costumes. We are proud to be the first group outside of Switzerland to celebrate this festive custom.
What are these costumes? The costumes, called Groscht, are thought to be of similar origin to the types of costumes worn during Fasnacht, or Swiss Mardi Gras. In Appenzell, there are three types: the Schöne (Beautiful), the Schö-Wüeschte (Pretty/Ugly) and the Wüeschte (Ugly). Each town has their own take on these costume types. Here in New Glarus, we wear the Wüeschte. Our costumes are nature-based and adored with bells to "ring in" the new year. The group of performers are called a Schuppl. The leader is called the Vorrolli and the last in line is the Noerolli. They both wear smaller bells attached to their costumes, while the other two performers, the Schelli, carry larger bells by hand.
What are you singing? Silversterchlausen songs are a specific type of yodel, called Zäuerli. Zäuerli have no words and are filled with improvised harmonies. The songs are led by our Vorrolli and the other performers will harmonize together. We also ring bells to mimic the sound of the dairy cows and to welcome the new year. Zäuerli are passed down without written music and are taught only by listening and singing along. During the procession, the Silversterchlausen performers do not speak, so we ask that you do not disturb them.
The event began at the Swiss Center of North America and the procession walked throughout downtown New Glarus, and ended at the Chalet Landhaus Inn.