Artistically carved wooden masks, dwarves, witches and bears, months of preparation and shining eyes can mean only one thing: carnival time will soon be arriving again in various alpine regions. This time, the children rule at the “Fisser Blochziehen” on the Tyrolean high plateau of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.
Originally celebrated by adults every four years and attracting a high level of participation, this custom was adopted by children too, over fifty years ago, in a two-year cycle – closely copying the grownup model. Punctually at 12.30 p.m. on Sunday, 10 February 2013, the cry “Iatz geats los!” (“Off we go!”) will go up in Fiss, and some 60 children and youngsters in colourful masks will proceed through the village dancing and shrieking to dispatch evil forces and the long winter.
The Fiss carnival custom owes its name to the “Bloch”, a long Swiss stone pine trunk. It represents a plough used to prepare the fields for sowing, thus heralding the start of spring. The trunk is pulled by the young bear drivers (symbolic of taming Nature) through the village with the assistance of the exuberant “Mohrelen” (“blackamoor” figures) and other helpers. At the end of the trunk a “Schwoaftuifl” (tailed devil) keeps the spectators amused with crazy gags and dances. He is bolstered by a band of little witches who yell wildly and brandish their brushes. These embody the severe winter that was still a great struggle for the people of Serfaus, Fiss und Ladis only a few decades ago. At the end of the carnival procession the “Bloch” is then auctioned off. Finally, a date to note: the next “Blochziehen” performed by adults will take place on 26 January 2014.
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