Räbechilbi in the Gemeinde

Here is my downstairs neighbor. He is four. He usually lives in Davis, California, but his dad is working at the ETH this semester. They are going home next month.


His mom told me that his school was going to have a little Räbechilbi parade, and I asked if I could come along. There might be no Halloween here, but people do carve turnips and put little lights in them, then hang them from strings like lanterns.

We walked to the school about 5 minutes from our flat and watched as the children assembled in their classroom. Notice the hats and coats. It was pretty chilly. Pretty soon the parents were ushered outside and the door was closed so the children could have their turnips lit.

IMG_6240Pretty soon the lights were out, the door opened, and 21 kids with fire in their Rübe were on their way outside to start the parade. At the head of the group was a cart with these little turnip lanterns on top.


Apparently the teacher had carved all of the turnips – one for each child. So, I guess that teachers here also work extra hard for their students as they do back home. I’ve read that many schools have the parents carve their child’s, and it can be quite competitive.

We wandered the streets, and occasionally the parade (the glob of people) would stop, and the teacher would lead the children in the singing of a song. I wish that I had brought my small camera with the video capability to record the singing. At one point we stopped with a great view over the twinkling lights of the city.

IMG_6247 IMG_6253

I had the chance to talk to some of the parents, and one of them told me that this tradition is fairly specific to Zürich. I do know that on 11 November in Germany the children have parades for St. Martin’s day with lighted lanterns.

The parade ended at another school where parents set up tables, and the food the parents brought to share was set up and the children eagerly gave their turnips to their parents so they could run off and play.



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