ICS Pre-Kindergarten children connected with a tradition from our host community as they celebrated their Lantern Walk with a Swiss-style Räbeliechtli parade.
Traditionally, the ICS Lantern Walk takes place in autumn after school hours and has always been a shared experience with our Preschool & Kindergarten families gathered around a bonfire singing songs.
This year, however, our Pre-Kindergarten children prepared for this special tradition in their individual classrooms and took part in an alternative programme daytime parade experience during Waldkinder learning time.
The turnip-light parade or Räbeliechtliumzug as it is called in Swiss German, is a tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages, when turnips were a staple food source and the last turnip harvest of the year was celebrated with a feast. Preparation for the festivities involved carving decorative shapes into hollowed-out turnips (Räben), placing a candle inside and parading through the dark streets of the towns and villages with the glowing turnip lanterns.
The Räbeliechtli festival of light is traditionally celebrated during the month of November in many communities around Switzerland, our host country. Local farmers in the region around Zurich, for example, plant approximately 25 tons of turnips each year which are used exclusively for making lanterns for the Räbeliechtli parades.
This autumn, due to the current situation, Räbeliechtli parades in cities and towns around Switzerland have been officially cancelled. Fortunately, however, a group of ICS Pre-Kindergarten children set out to celebrate the festival of light in autumn with their own Räbeliechtli parade to their outdoor learning space in the forest adjacent to our campus.
Following the time-honoured Swiss tradition of carrying the small lanterns they had carved from turnips, the children interacted with each other on this special day and learned that sharing ideas through exploring the natural environment leads to discovery. Together with their teachers, they walked along the forest path singing Räbeliechtli songs in German and enjoying a tasty snack around a cosy outdoor fire. In addition, the watercolour paintings the children created reflected their observations of the natural world around them.
Although parents were not able to participate in the Lantern Walk with their children this year, documentation of this well-loved autumn event has been made available to them, enabling them to share and enjoy their children’s very special outdoor Räbeliechtli parade experience.