Monday, August 25, 2014

Green Man in Switzerland

Joyce from the Museum writes:
 Some recent visitors to the Museum from Switzerland were particularly interested in our Green Man display (an example of which can be seen above), as they are from Kleinbasel (the part of the city of Basel on the right-hand bank of the Rhine), which has a festival called Vogel Gryff featuring a Green Man.

The festival takes place in January, and begins with the dramatically masked Green Man (known as Wildi Maa) travelling down the Rhine on a raft, brandishing a small pine tree, with canons firing salutes. At the Middle Bridge he is joined by two other figures – a lion (Leu) and a griffin (Vogel Gryff – who gives his name to the festival). All three then dance through the streets, collecting money for charity.

The festival dates back to the 16th century, and the three figures are the heraldic symbols of three local societies, which were originally militias, but are now essentially social clubs.

There are some entertaining films of the festival on YouTube, for example:

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