Masked revellers dance through Swiss Alpine villages

Hundwil (Switzerland), Jan 13 (IANS) At the crack of dawn on Saturday, masked men wearing elaborate costumes marched through a village in the Swiss Alps to offer farmers their best wishes for the New Year, as per the Julian calendar, media reports said.

A group of Silvesterchlaeuse, sporting colourful clothes, smiling masks and huge cowbells that were strapped to their backs and chest, danced and sang in the village of Hundwil, part of the Appenzell Ausserrhoden canton, to mark the New Year, Efe news agency reported.

Traditionally, they visit every remote farmhouse while singing a high-pitched song that echoes through the valley.

After their cold march through Alpine villages while carrying cowbells that can weigh up to 30 kg (66 pounds), the Silvesterchlaeuse are given hot drinks, and houses they visit will often give them some money.

The procession takes place twice a year, on December 31 and January 13, to celebrate the New Year according to both the Gregorian and Julian calendars.

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