Sunday, December 23, 2012

Desalpe Festival

While we were back in the states for my brothers wedding an important tradition in Switzerland was taking place. We didn't get to go this year, but last year we did and since I didn't start the blog till  October I thought I would write a little bit about it.

The Desalpe festival is definitely what you think of when you hear about Switzerland. It celebrates the cows coming down from the alps for the winter to graze in lower pastures. In the summer they head up to greener pastures and in the fall they come back down. It's a huge tradition and every year they strap bells around their necks and flowers on their heads and parade them down the mountains sometimes taking 2 or more hours to get down to the nearest town. The cattle herders are called "Les Armaillis" in the French region and "Senn" in the German Alpine regions. They take great pride in leading their herd down the mountain after staying with them for the entire 3 months in higher pastures.  They do this in several different towns but some people David worked with recommended we go to St. Cergue.  It took two trains to get there. We took a train from Geneva to Nyon and then we took a cog train to  St. Cergue.  A cog train uses a gear system. It has a tooth racked trail with a cog wheel that provides traction when going up a steep incline.

I'll post a few pictures but if you want the full effect check out our Smilebox that I had made last year. It's the shortest by far and my favorite that i've done. I took some video of the cows, people playing alpine horns, and some real Swiss music so you definitely get an idea of what it was like!!

Cog Train

 Bell Ringers
 Alpine Horns

 We got our cow bell to take home!

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