Autumn on the Shores of Zugersee


Autumn on the Shores of Zugersee

Fall is wonderful in itself — the new crispness in the air, the explosion of color in the trees — and for its promise of another ski season just around the corner.  Of course, Switzerland is beautiful in the fall — when is it not anything less than gorgeous?  But there is one little price to pay for the privilege: we have to live in fog for a good deal of the season.

This isn’t true everywhere, but in those areas near those beautiful lakes that make a perfect background for every picture.  It seems that the interaction of lake water and cooling air produces dense fog, which backs up against those lovely hills and can just sit there for days at a time.

Or, as is most often the case, the day begins in dense fog — I mean, so dense that you can’t even see St. Martin’s church tower a couple of blocks away (though, of course, you can always hear its bells.) And gradually, the fog burns off, at least in part, leaving a haze in the air that makes for spectacular sunsets.

The solution is, as always, simple — get up to the mountains.  Thus, for the past month we have taken advantage of every free day to get above the fog for a hike.  At least one day each weekend we have hiked in some valley or other, exulting in the fall color.

Being there also gives us an opportunity to check out the progress of snow on the highest peaks, which only whets our appetites for the ski season to come.

A few weekends ago we returned to the Haslital, one of our favorite valleys, and hiked along the Hasliberg, the uplands above.

Autumn also brings the opportunity to observe different local customs and traditions.  Few in Switzerland, apart from expatriates, celebrate Halloween.  Instead, November 1 is a holiday in Catholic cantons, as the Feast of All Saints, when people decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers, pine boughs and candles.  And in most communities at this time of year children participate in Räbeliechtliumzugs (roughly translated, little turnip light parades).


The parade took place in Baar  in November .  We were prepared in advance by a letter from school officials asking us to turn off our lights at the time of the parade to create an appropriate “atmosphere.”  Beginning at 6:45, all of the children in the town’s 20 kindergartens assembled at the Rathus (Town Hall) and then processed through the streets at the center of town.  Each carried on a pole a turnip that he or she had carved, brightly lit within by a candle.  Some times they sang traditional songs and others they were accompanied by a brass band.

The effect was magical, but unfortunately because of the light I was not able to get pictures.  This YouTube video from another community captures the atmosphere well, though.  Similar parades will be taking place at communities large and small throughout Switzerland.  I found the event touchingly simple and sweet.

About the Author

BargegirlBefore moving to Baar in September 2010, Bargegirl lived in Philadelphia.View all posts by Bargegirl →