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Pumpkin vs. Räbeliechtli

Halloween is just around the corner and while I believe every culture should have it's share of interesting holidays and traditions I must admit don't really appreciate when a "foreign" holiday is imported to Switzerland - especially when it's mainly for money making reasons such as Halloween.

Ten years ago nobody was celebrating this holiday but nowadays the stores are full of costumes, candy and other Halloween-y decoration articles. I'd much rather see people pick up on older traditions that slowly fade into history - but maybe I'm just a nostalgic.

Räbeliechtli - by Natalie Kramer

Carving a Turnip in Switzerland

Thus, as people are carving their pumpkins around the world children in Switzerland will get ready to carve their turnips (and many crafty adults as well). True, the actual season for the Räbeliechtli (turnip lanterns) starts in November and is basically one of many Christmas season traditions here in Switzerland but I believe creating a beautiful lantern is fun even already in October. As the days are quickly getting shorter who would say no to a little pretty light?!

Carving your own turnips is easy when you follow a few basic instructions and tips. Natalie over at schaeresteipapier put together this excellent guide for carving turnips (in German only). Once you've bought a decent sized turnips or turnip you cut off a lid, carve out the inside of it with a knife or spoon and then carve patterns or a design into its side. The challenge is always to make the walls of your Räbeliechtli thin enough to allow the light of a candle to filter to the outside through the carvings but thick enough so it will remain stable.

If you're interested in giving it a try, here's also a short video of how to carve your turnip:

PS: All this goes beyond saying that we Swiss also like a good pumpkin or squash dish. Pumpkin soup is quite popular here but only few people have tasted pumpkin pie - too bad, I think it's a delicious treat!



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