“Eis, Zwei, Geissebei”
February 16, 2021
On this Tuesday – that is, the day between Rose Monday and Ash Wednesday – hundreds of expectant children gather in front of the town hall in Rapperswil. At 3.15 pm precisely, the windows of the banqueting hall open and a loud fanfare sounds out. A council member then asks: “Sind alli mini Buebe doo?” (Are all my boys here?), whereupon the children shout at the top of their voices: “Ja! Eis, zwei, Geissebei!“(Yes, one, two, goat-leg). Then sausages, bread rolls and gingerbread (known in Switzerland as “Biberli”) rain down from the windows of the banqueting hall onto the children below. This game between the councilors and the children continues for around half-an-hour, until all of the youngsters have plenty of tasty things to eat.
Incidentally, it is not known exactly how long this custom has been celebrated. It is thought to date back to the siege and destruction of Rapperswil on February 24, 1350 by Rudolf Brun, the first mayor of Zurich, when sympathetic, wealthy town dwellers handed down food through their windows to hungry children and fellow citizens.