Traditions and customs

Valais is not an artificially created leisure park. It is a home to many people, who continue actively to make their mark on this region, from north to south, with their traditions and customs. For example, cow fights have only recently become an iconic symbol of the Valaisian way of life. There are also many customs which originated in religious observances, but which in recent years have been raised to the level of local or regional cultural events, like the Corpus Christi procession with God's Grenadiers, which takes place at numerous locations in Valais. Of course Carnival also deserves a mention, although few of the dramatis personae from the Carnival past have survived to the present day. Among them are the empaillés and pelluches in Evolène, and the Tschäggättä in Lötschental. The festive high points over the course of the year are the same. However, the Valais cultural calendar is determined just as much by all of the local and regional celebrations which take place from May to October according to the rhythm of the weekends: music festivals, alpine festivals, village festivals and folklore celebrations. Traditional Valais costumes often feature in these as a symbol of uniqueness. Tracht – the word for costume - really just means the clothes people wear. A distinction is observed between men's and women's workday and Sunday clothes. Drum and fife players also lend an entirely unique note to Valais festivals. Many men learned to play these instruments while serving as mercenaries abroad, and on returning home devoted great care to the practice and promotion of drum and fife music. Today there are around 2,000 active musicians enrolled in the various clubs. The culinary conclusion to the season is provided by the autumn markets and festivals, as well as the return of the cattle from the mountains to the valley. These events provide a unique framework in which to sample agricultural products like wine, cheese, chestnuts and so on.