Onions, anyone?

This is an article contributed by Isabel Götz, our colleague who is responsible for Human Resources, Public Relations and Events. Isabel is from Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, and the city has a tradition with onions!

It’s been a while since I joined the annual "Zibelemärit" in Bern, Switzerland. Zibele…what? 

Let me share with you a bit of my hometowns tradition. “Zibele” is the Swiss German word for onion, and yes we happen to have a special event for onions, a unique market for one day. You’ll find all sorts of things made out of white and red onions, such as braids or ornaments, and little figurines and more decorative items. In addition this market is also offering a broad selection of traditional Swiss textiles and ceramics. It takes place every year, on the forth Monday of November. So if you are not a fan of onions or the smell of them – this is the day you want to skip your visit to the capital! 

I think I was 7 years old, when my Mum took me to my first "Zibelemärit". We had to get up super early and left home at around 5am, in order to arrive on time for the opening of the market at 6am. It was still dark, and very cold. But despite the early morning hours, the city was packed with people, walking through the streets. Thinking of all these people, I would describe it similar density compared to rush hour at People Square Station! But, in a slightly cosier atmosphere of course ;-) There was one market stand after the other, displaying the handmade goods and crafts nicely, and onions as far as your eyes could see! 

A culinary “must-eat” during that day is the special onion pie or cheese pie! You would hear vendors praising their pies, shouting “Zibele Chueche…Chäs Chueche” on every corner. Nearby you have the colorfully wrapped peppermint hard candy, which you wear like a necklace. Another highlight is the “Konfetti-Schlacht” at 4pm, which means that people gather for a gigantic confetti paper battle! You can buy bags with confetti in all kinds of colors, and then you simply grab a handful and throw it on someone. So you need to be careful when you walk through the stands, because you might get a confetti shower. Oh and yes, when you get home, you’ll discover these little confetti flakes everywhere! Some people wear a hat, in order to not have confetti in their hair, but also to protect themselves from getting hit by the little soft plastic hammers. Rumor has it, that during the “Zibelemärit” you can hit anyone (even highly ranked politician or the mayor) with these squeaking little hammers, without them getting mad!! I never tried… 

Growing older and when I was working in the city, visiting the market became more of an after work tradition. I would meet with my friends for some wine and the mandatory cheese or onion pie. The market stands slowly wrap up in the evening and the visitors from far away head back home. The city calms down a bit again, and with that the cleaning crews move in. While we were eating onion pie, they tackled the seemingly unbeatable battle of bringing the city back to its normal appearance. So after one day of craziness, the city is back to normal again, and it all starts again the year after, on the fourth Monday of November! 

Happy “Zibelemärit” to my friends back home!!