Zibelemärit in Bern

Continuing on my adventure to find local customs, I went on an excursion with the American Women’s Club to the annual Bern Zibelemärit (Bern Zweibelmarkt or Bern Onion Market). Tradition has it that this market opens at 4 or 5 a.m., but we not only live an hour away by train, we are also civilized people and took the 8.56 train and arrived at the fair at a reasonable hour. Unlike the previous week, the weather was Perfect. Sunny, and upper 50s.

So, from what I can tell, this fall festival has several legends regarding its origin. Either it commemorates women from Murten coming around St. Martin’s Day (Nov. 11) to sell their onions, or, the more popular myth is that after a fire in 1405 destroyed most of Bern, the people of Fribourg came to help, and as their reward were given the right to sell their onions in Bern.

In any case, whatever reason is used for having a party on a Monday (always the 4th Monday of November), it doesn’t matter, as long as there are treasures for the selling, food for the eating and Glühwein for the drinking.

Bern is the capital of Switzerland and has a lovely town center steps outside of the HB.  The streets are fairly wide for an old town, and stalls and tents filled most of area with all kinds of stuff.


The Zytglogge – Bern’s Clock Tower.


The Federal Palace of Switzerland – the seat of the country government.


Many stalls had food to sell. Here are some Lebkuchen. The heart says, “i ha di gärn” which I assume is Swiss German for “Ich habe dich gern” which translates to “I like you.”


I do not remember the name of this, but the nuts and fruits are embedded in a marshmallowy creamy thing which is firmer than what you would imagine. It’s slightly sweet.


Of course, there are figures made from onions.

IMG_6440 IMG_6443And some made from felt.

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Onion baskets. I assume that after you enjoy them as a decoration you can use the onions in your cooking.


Of course, you can buy some Christmas items, too.

IMG_6451 IMG_6454

What the kids like the most, I imagine is the throwing of the confetti. Confetti everywhere. In your hair, stuck to your jacket. First you buy a bag of it (one color per bag), but after a few hours, you can just pick up handfuls from the street which are a nice mixture of colors.

IMG_6459 IMG_6505

Children of all ages liked these necklaces which looked like small onions wrapped in cellophane, but were supposedly different sweet flavors. Some of the women in our group bought these necklaces, but we did not open them to see what was inside. I will have to inquire.

IMG_6464I bought one of these onion pies to eat on the street.


Now that I have walked through Bern, I definitely want to go back with H and actually take a tour of the Parliament building, look at the historical clock a little more closely, and see what other things the Swiss capital has to offer. I will wait until they clean up the streets, though. It was pretty much a big mess by the time we left.


3 thoughts on “Zibelemärit in Bern

  1. Wait … no hammering on the head with plastic hammers? You have obviously left before the “Stunggete” (roughly translated: press & squeeze), after 5.pm in the main street. Kids love this – I used to hate it!

  2. Oh, yes! Definitely the hammering on the head was part of the day. I forgot to mention it, mostly because I escaped being a victim. They were hammering well before 17.00 since we were already on the train home by that point.

  3. Pingback: Bern | Glamping in Switzerland

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