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Airdate: Jan 11, 2019
Scientist: Regina Bendix


Giant bells, elaborate costumes, and beautiful yodels: it's New Year's Eve in Urnsch, Switzerland.

SILVESTERKLAUSENmusic; ambience: bells ringingThis week marks New Year's Eve, by the Julian calendar, and we're in the small village of Urnsch, Switzerland, where they're celebrating the holiday of Silvesterklausen. Several masked figures file past us, sporting bells and ornate head dresses over a foot high. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.Silvesterklausen is a New Year's celebration here in Urnsch, practiced by the Chluse: men of the village disguised in elaborate, traditional costumes, bells and head dresses so large and heavy that they often physically injure the wearer. At dawn on New Year's Eve, the Chluse will trudge single file through the village, stopping in front of select houses. Each Chlus is adorned with either thirteen round bells, or two giant cowbells strapped to their front and back. They dance and ring their bells in a specific rhythm, announcing their presence to the people at home.Ambience: yodelingThe Chluse will perform a few of these yodels, as a wish for a Happy New Year to the villager, who rewards them with a drink of wine or cider, and usually some money. After thanks are exchanged, the group will move along, until they reach another house on the lane. They'll continue their journey until midnight, when they stop to sing and celebrate in the New Year with the rest of the villagers.Our special thanks to Dr. Regina Bendix, Assistant Professor of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.