The tradition of Bandir gennaio

It is a tradition that used to be typical of the whole of Italian-speaking Switzerland and has been maintained in Locarno in particular: the custom of chasing away the cold of winter by making as much noise as possible. This is the 'Bandir gennaio', held on 31 January each year. Also known as 'bandi gianée' or 'fo genee' in dialect, it is the joy of all the little Locarno inhabitants, who are allowed to make a lot of noise for an afternoon.

The tradition of Bandir gennaio
  • Ensuring an early spring

  • Typically Locarno! As soon as the last boats leave the port of Locarno in the autumn, those left behind in the sunniest corner of Switzerland start longing for warmer days. While in the higher regions there is still snow and skiing is in full swing, in the villages around Locarno people are already thinking about ending winter and welcoming spring. Perhaps it is thanks to the hubbub of children that winter runs away and the first blossoms can already be admired in February.

It is, without a doubt, the best day of the year for the children of Locarno: so much noise with nobody to tell them off. Only today do they get to roam the streets with tin cans, pans, pots and drums, rattling and clanging to their hearts’ content pulling the empty tin cans across the ground and bang the pots and pans together. The resulting noise is said to drive away the ghosts of winter and wake the spirits of summer from their slumber. Back in the day, the children used to head out by themselves and banish the winter from their local area. Today, the processions are organised and supervised by parents or teaching staff. Once the hard work is done, everyone enjoys a snack together on the market square. Who knows how long the poor winter spirits will put up with the noise this year before they move on... and spring awakens!

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