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Zusslrennen in Prad am Stilfser Joch:
A spectacle of tradition and joie de vivre
The “Zusslrennen” in Prad am Stilfser Joch in South Tyrol is a unique and colorful event that takes place every year on Mischief Thursday. This ancient tradition has deep roots in the regional culture and attracts visitors from all over the world. In this text we will take a detailed look at the “Zusslrennen”, its history, its meaning and the process of this enchanting celebration.
Date and venue
The “Zusslrennen” takes place every year on Mischief Thursday, which is traditionally the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday. This date usually falls in February or March, depending on the date of Easter. It marks the peak of the carnival season and the beginning of spring.
The event has its permanent home in the picturesque village of Prad am Stilfser Joch, located in the Vinschgau Valley in the region of South Tyrol, Italy. The narrow streets and picturesque backdrops of Prad provide the ideal setting for this colorful festival.
The history of the “Zusslrennen
The origins of the “Zusslrennen” go far back into the history of Prad and the Vinschgau Valley. This custom arose to drive away winter and celebrate the new life and fertility of the land. The tradition goes back to pagan rituals, which over time have been merged with Christian elements.
The name “Zussl” derives from the Zellers, the nuns of the monastery of St. Johann in Müstair. These nuns are said to have brought the custom to the region. The “Zusslrennen” was originally an act of resistance against the authorities and was often carried out secretly by the inhabitants of the Vinschgau Valley.
Over time, the “Zusslrennen” developed into an official and festive event that brings the entire community together. Today it is one of the most famous carnival customs in South Tyrol.
The course of the “Zussl race
The “Zusslrennen” is a colorful spectacle that lasts from early morning until the evening. The day begins with the gathering of participants in their festive costumes and masks. The “Zussln” are men dressed in white robes and carrying colorful paper flowers. The most distinctive feature, however, are the heavy cowbells they wear around their bodies.
The “Zussln” form a noisy procession accompanied by various figures. One of them is the “King of Bells”, who leads the group and has the task of driving away winter. His imposing costume and loud bells make him the central figure of the festival.
Another characteristic element of the “Zusslrennen” are the “Bajazzen”, the colorfully dressed jesters who entertain the audience with their jokes and pranks. They provide a cheerful and exuberant atmosphere along the parade route.
During the procession, the “Zussln” distribute sweets and small gifts to the spectators, especially to the children who enthusiastically stand on the roadside.
In the evening, the festive community gathers in the village square to celebrate the “Zusslrennen” with music, dancing and festive food. This part of the festival often lasts until late in the evening and provides an opportunity to enjoy regional cuisine and fellowship.
The meaning of the “Zussl race
The “Zusslrennen” has a deep cultural and social meaning for the people of Prad and the Vinschgau Valley. It symbolizes the transition from winter to spring, from darkness to light and from cold to warmth. The noisy bells of the “Zussln” are supposed to drive away the winter and welcome the new life.
The figure of the “king of shells” represents the hope for a good harvest and protection from disease and misfortune. The “Bajazzen” provide merriment and good cheer, reminding the community to leave the cares of winter behind and enjoy life.
The importance of costumes and masks
The costumes and masks of the “Zussln” are an important part of the “Zusslrennen”. The elaborate robes and elaborate masks are an expression of the craftsmanship and creative expression of the participants.
The cowbells that the “Zussln” wear are not only loud, but also of symbolic importance. They are supposed to drive away the winter and announce the new life. The paper flowers they carry are a sign of fertility and growth.
The role of music and dance in the Zussl race
The music and the dances play a central role in the “Zusslrennen”. Traditional music groups accompany the procession and play festive melodies that emphasize the mood of the festival.
The “Zussln” also perform traditional dances expressing the joy of the beginning of spring and the prospect of a good harvest. These dances are a source of entertainment for the audience and contribute to the festive atmosphere.
The “Zusslrennen” as a community experience
The “Zusslrennen” is more than just a festival, it is an expression of community and regional identity. The people of Prad and the Vinschgau Valley come together to drive away winter and welcome the new life.
It is a time for gathering, celebrating and enjoying regional cuisine. The “Zusslrennen” strengthens the bonds within the community and reminds people how important their traditions and customs are.
Conclusion: The “Zusslrennen” in Prad am Stilfser Joch
The “Zusslrennen” in Prad on the Stelvio Pass is a fascinating and colorful festival that brings people together to drive away winter and welcome the new life. It is an expression of regional culture and tradition, expressing the joy of the beginning of spring and the hope for a good harvest.
The elaborate costumes, the loud bells, the cheerful dances and the festive music make the “Zusslrennen” a unique experience. It is a time of celebration and togetherness that the people of Prad and Val Venosta have cherished for centuries.
Photos © IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige/Frieder Blickle
Wann findet 2024 das Zusslrennen in Prad am Stilfser Joch statt?
Das Zusslrennen 2024 findet am Unsinnigen Donnerstag, den 08.02.2024 in Prad am Stilfser Joch, Vinschgau, Südtirol statt.