On the first Sunday after Carnival, the 'Buergen ' (torches) are lit across the Grand Duchy to chase away the winter. This traditional festival brings together crowds in all the country's municipalities. It is a time for neighbours, local celebrities and associations to meet as they gather for this event.
Fed up with winter!
Each village has their own. They can be of bigger or smaller scale. The Buergen that are lit up on the country's highlands on Buergsonndeg or Brandons Festival - the first Sunday after carnival - are huge stakes whose mission is to chase winter away. They come in various forms - sometimes, they look like a small castle, but most of them take the form of a giant stake with a cross in the middle.
The materials frequently used include straw, branches and logs. Old Christmas trees are also used. Most of the time, the Buergen are erected by the local young people, who sometimes also organise a torch-lit procession from the village to the Buerg, which they then set alight before the crowd's eyes.
A custom that brings villages together
The event usually starts during the afternoon with the construction of the 'Buerg', followed by a torchlight procession, and ending with the lighting of the fire as darkness falls. In some places, the honour of lighting the ' Buerg ' goes to the most recently married local couple, or to a local celebrity.
Grilled food and traditional dishes including Ierzebulli (pea soup), Bouneschlupp (green bean soup ) and Glühwäin (mulled wine) are served to warm up the audience, and often, the festival goes on long after the stake has been reduced to embers.
Originally, the Buergbrennen or Faaschtefeier (Lent Festival) used to be a pagan custom.
Since ancient times, the Buergbrennen tradition has been observed around the time of the spring equinox. The blaze symbolises the rebirth of spring and the end of winter, the triumph of warm over cold, of light over darkness. Some claim the blaze is a symbolic reminder of the time when witches were burnt at the stake.