27.11.2023 - Press news
Carnival traditions in Fiss: Mohrelen and little witches
In January 2024, it will be time for the cunning Schwoaftuifl to once again make his rounds through Fiss during the Blochziehen (log pulling). But he won't be alone; he'll be accompanied by costumed characters known as Giggler, Mohrelen, and Schallner, as well as witches. A spectacle that depicts the battle of good against evil – spring against winter. But this time, the youngsters will be front and centre in the Kinderblochziehen (children’s log pulling). Just like the adults, they celebrate this custom every four years and spend months preparing for it. This tradition has been going on for half a century.
„latz geats los“
A shout of "latz geats los" ("Off we go!") signals the start of the event. No matter young or old, everyone is looking forward to it. Then, when the clock strikes 1pm, the Blochziehen begins, and for a few hours on 28 January 2024, nothing will be the same in the village of 1,000 people. With their combined strength, the participants, dressed in historical costumes and wooden masks, pull a heavy Bloch (log) through the narrow alleyways of Fiss in the Tyrolean Oberinntal valley. The Schallner and Mohrelen figures jump out in front of everyone and announce the start of the procession. If you look closely, you will notice that all the figures – the Paarlen, the Holzer, the Jäger, and of course the Schwoaftuifl – are smaller than at the last Blochziehen. That can only be for one reason: it’s time for the youngsters to shine in the Kinderblochziehen.
As exuberant as the grownups
Loud, merry, and certainly no less euphoric than the adults, the procession moves through the streets. A total of around 60 masked children and adolescents between the ages of six and 17 are getting up to merry mischief and celebrating the Fisser Kinderblochziehen just the way the adults do. They have been preparing for this day for months and are proudly showing off their elaborately carved wooden masks. Letting out wild cries, they want to draw winter to a close and drag the Bloch to Fonnesplatz, where it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder after the procession. Which, of course, the proud children will then want to celebrate in the marquee along with everyone else.
A quaint carnival tradition
The Fisser Blochziehen is one of the most authentically traditional carnival customs in the Alpine region and takes place every four years. The Kinderblochziehen is held in alternate years. During the parade in January, the masked participants pull the Bloch through the village of Fiss on a decorated wooden sled. The proceeds from auctioning off the Bloch go towards the carnival, village community projects, or social institutions. For half a century, the children and young people of the village have been imitating the adults and celebrating the Kinderblochziehen every four years.
More details for the curious
The Bloch itself represents a plough breaking up the ground in the fields for sowing, thus heralding the spring. The Blochziehen was a custom performed by male youths and single men until 1969, after which married men were also included. Today, a dedicated committee assigns the roles and manages the wooden masks and costumes. Almost every family living in Fiss is involved in the carnival revelry in one way or another. In 2011, UNESCO recognised the value of the Fisser Blochziehen and added the custom to Austria's national List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
By the way: the next Blochziehen for adults will take place on 25 January 2026.
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