Festivals and traditions

15 August - Léiffrawëschdag (Assumption)

Blessed herbs

Un Wësch somptueux devant les portes d'une égliseAlso known as Léiffrakrautdag and Krautwëschdag, Léiffrawëschdag is a type of harvest festival, with origins going back to before the Christian era. These days, the traditional blessing of herbs on the Feast of the Assumption - 15 August, a public holiday - is only held in a few places, and most notably in Greiveldange, a picturesque village on the Moselle.

The origins of the tradition

Traditionally, the blessing of the herbs, documented as early as the 6th century AD, involved the priest blessing bunches of herbs (Wësch) brought to church by members of the congregation for that purpose. The number of herbs used to be limited to less than a dozen. Over time, however, this rule was relaxed and the bunch included more and more plants, provided they – whether allegedly or actually – possessed medicinal properties and exuded a strong smell. Once the Blessed Virgin Mary was elected patron saint of the country in 1678, the blessing of the herbs was accompanied by a procession in her honour.

And these days?

Today, the traditional blessing of herbs on Assumption Day, which is an official public holiday, is carried out in just a few places in the Grand Duchy.

Although special masses are held in many places to celebrate the Assumption, the only place where this is coupled with a popular festival is Greiveldange, a picturesque village on the Moselle.

Léiffrawëschdag in Greiveldange

On 15 August, Greiveldange becomes a party venue, where local residents meet over a glass of wine. Visitors are treated to festivities organised by the 'Greiweldenger Leit' association. After mass, during which the Wësch is blessed, a concert by the Museksfrënn '97 invites visitors to start with an aperitif. Then a number of typical Luxembourgish dishes - Lëtzeborger Kascht - are served. Accompanied, of course, by still and sparkling wines from local vineyards and producers. With events and music in the streets of the village, demonstrations of work and games from days gone by, and national and international folklore groups in action, there's bound to be a great atmosphere. The market offering regional produce and handcrafts is already almost a tradition in itself. Finally, at 5 p.m., animators Rol Girres and Lisa Mariotto invite residents and visitors to dance. And it's all free of charge!    

(article written by the editorial team of the portal luxembourg.lu)

  • Updated 12-08-2016