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Greiflet is a custom that occurs exclusively in the inner part of the canton. For generations, evil spirits have been driven away loudly on Epiphany Day, 6 January.
The Greifler parades take place every year in Schwyz and Steinen on Epiphany Day and start after dark. Up to a hundred or more "Trychler" (cowbell ringers) and "Geisselchlepfer" (whip crackers) parade together through a village and make a deafening noise that goes through marrow and bone. This drives away the evil spirits.
The sound of the "trycheln" spreads with such force that it can be felt as vibrations by the spectators at the roadside. The whip pinches, accelerated to supersonic speed, produce a loud bang that echoes off the facades of the houses or - under favourable topographical conditions - returns as an echo from the mountains. The custom becomes a physical experience for the grapplers themselves, who are dressed in white shepherd's shirts and black trousers. They wave the up to twenty-kilogram trychels, hammered out of sheet metal, in a common rhythm over the entire course. In the case of the occasional "Jochtrychler", the load is even doubled. In the case of the dozen or so "Chlepfer", the effort consists in the nimble and powerful arm movements with which they constantly guide the scourge through the air.
In the second part of the evening, the organised noise gives way to ritualised conviviality and theatrical sports talk. Two speakers each appear before the audience gathered in the main square or in a restaurant in the evening. In their talk, called "Plöder", in the form of satirical verses, they review the year. They are not sparing with sharp-tongued, teasing or mischievous comments on local events or local people.
The evening ends with the "Greiflertanz", which is open to everyone and is performed by a country band in a nearby inn or multi-purpose room.
06. January / Epiphany
Main square in Schwyz
Village square in Steinen
free of charge