Tschäggättä Lötschental

The Tschäggättä - a fascinating heritage

The magical valley is home to a unique tradition that has been handed down for generations: the Tschäggättä, a symbol of solidarity with their homeland and pride in their history and culture.

These mysterious carnival figures, clad in mysterious wooden masks and surrounded by an air of the uncanny, are a fascinating element of the local carnival celebrations in the Lötschental. The Tschäggättä appear during Fasnacht, a time of celebration and merriment that takes place every year from Candlemas until "Gigiszischtag" (i.e. the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). But while most carnival figures are cheerful and colorful, the Tschäggättä carry with them an aura of mystery and eeriness. With their hand-carved wooden masks made of Swiss stone pine, often decorated with grim or grotesque faces, they embody the dark secrets of winter and the age-old tradition of driving away evil spirits.

For the inhabitants of the Lötschental, the Tschäggättä are more than just figures in an old tradition. They are a symbol of their attachment to their homeland and their pride in their history and culture. They remind people that their roots run deep and that the heritage of their ancestors is still relevant today. And while the world around them is changing, the Tschäggättä remain firmly rooted in the heart of the Lötschental, ready to drive away the spirits of winter and spread the joy of carnival.
It is precisely to preserve this tradition that the Tschäggättu custom is only celebrated in the Lötschental and only during the carnival season.

The history

The question of the origin of the Tschäggätta will probably never be answered with certainty. There are two legends in the foreground.

The Schurten thieves

The best-known legend of the origins of the Tschäggättä is the legend of the Schurten thieves. In the shady forests on the opposite side of the valley once resided the legendary Schurten thieves. Even today, their farmsteads can still be recognised, particularly clearly visible on the Giätrich, in the "Obri Wald" forest opposite the village of Wiler. They were small but strong men who had to flee from the Alemanni invading the Lötschental into the "Obri Wald" on the shady side.

At nightfall, they went on the prowl in wild disguise. It was said that the Schurten thieves did not accept anyone into their ranks who was not able to jump over the Lonza with a load of a hundred pounds. The Schurtendiebe apparently formed a kind of men's organisation whose flamboyant costumes are sometimes associated with the Tschäggättä: Wooden masks, furs and jingling bells are said to have been among their trademarks.

Driving away the winter

It is also quite possible that the custom is of pagan origin. This is supported by spring customs in other parts of the country, where winter is also driven out by masked figures.

Le Tschäggättu Loif

27 February 2025

Les Tschäggättä traversent les villages du Lötschental tous les soirs (sauf le dimanche) après le travail. Si vous souhaitez voir les Tschäggättä, il est recommandé de manger dans l'un des restaurants de la région. Les Tschäggättä finiront bien par passer. Si vous souhaitez voir une troupe entière de Tschäggättä, vous pourrez le faire lors du Tschäggättu-Loif ou du défilé de carnaval à Wiler. Toujours le "feisten Frontag" (jeudi gras), les Tschäggättä sont rassemblés sur le parking de Blatten à la tombée de la nuit. Les Tschäggättä partent ensuite avec les bergers et se rendent à pied de Blatten à Ferden. Les Tschäggättä passent dans tous les villages de la vallée.

Le défilé de carnaval

01 March 2025

Lors du traditionnel défilé de carnaval du Lötschental à Wiler, le samedi après le "feisten Frontag", les Tschäggättä ferment généralement le cortège. Vous trouverez des informations et les dates sous: www.loetschental.ch. Veuillez noter que la coutume du Tschäggättu revêt une grande importance chez nous, dans le Lötschental. Nous vous prions donc de traiter les Tschäggättu avec respect.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Encounters with the Tschäggättä are fascinating, but should also be enjoyed with a little caution. Due to their wooden masks, their vision is severely restricted. They only look through very small holes. It is therefore advisable to approach them cautiously and pay attention to their reactions. If they start to growl, it is advisable to keep your distance.
  • In the world of the Tschäggättä there are a variety of characters - some are friendly and sociable, while others appear grumpy and moody. It's important not to provoke them or stand in their way, otherwise you could quickly end up in the snow.
  • Touching the mask, bell or skins of the Tschäggättä should be avoided at all costs. Such actions could be perceived as disrespectful and lead to unpleasant situations.
  • During the Tschäggättu-Loif or the carnival procession, please remain at the side of the road until the Tschäggättä have passed. As their view is restricted, they could otherwise accidentally knock you over. Photography and filming is also possible from the roadside. Make sure that your children stay safely at the edge and not in the middle of the procession.
  • Always treat our Tschäggättä with respect. Unfortunately, snowballs are sometimes thrown at them, which is not only dangerous for our Tschäggättä, but also disrespectful.
  • If you want to attract a Tschäggätta, you can try using special lure calls such as "Ela, Ela, Ela" or "Tschäggätta, Tschäggätta, Ela, Ela". However, be warned - this will quickly put you in the sights of a Tschäggätta, and then you will only have the choice between escape or a wet surprise.

Blue parlour experience

The carnival exhibition "Zur Blauen Stube" is a world of experience centred around the theme of the Lötschental carnival. The exhibition is staged in an old residential building that has been largely preserved as it was in 1912. In various themed worlds, visitors are immersed interactively in a world that appeals to all the senses. Each visitor designs their own experience around the theme. The Blue Parlour in Wiler is open daily on request for groups of at least six people. Further information can be found at: www.blauestube.ch

Mask show at the Lötschental Museum 

At the centre of the show are masks as handcrafted creations. Outstanding pieces from older and more recent times are on display. However, the historical and functional context of the Tschäggättä as bearers of a living tradition is also presented. This is illustrated in particular by a film with French subtitles. The exhibition focuses on the masks as an act of creation. How and why does each era produce its own type of mask? And how do the makers themselves evaluate what they do?

The highlights of the show include a mask that can be seen in a film from the 1920s in Blatten, as well as masks painted by the artist Albert Nyfeler. The presentation is enhanced by a touchscreen that gives the public an insight into the museum's collection. In addition to masks, historical photos and posters on the subject can also be called up on this interactive screen. The two exhibition rooms offer a unique panorama of the development of Lötschental wooden masks from the 19th century to the present day.
Further information can be found at: www.loetschentalermuseum.ch