When the streets of Bern’s old town are filled with the scent of onions
Once a year, onions and garlic take over the City of Bern. During the Zibelemärit, the city smells of onion tarts, onion soup and mulled wine.
Colourful market stalls, delicious mulled wine and artistically woven braids of onions and garlic as far as the eye can see – in other words, it’s Zibelemärit. The traditional folk festival during which farmers from the region bring about 50 tons of onions and garlic to the Swiss capital is held once a year, on the fourth Monday of every November. If you want to enjoy the market in all its glory and in peace, you need to get up early. Even before the official opening at 6 a.m., many locals stroll through the streets to take a look at the braids of onions on display at over 200 market stalls and bargain with vendors to get the best price.
When it comes to food during the Zibelemärit, the people of Bern are deeply committed to the herbaceous plant. Those who love this species of the leek family are spoilt for choice – from onion tarts and onion soup to sausage with onions and onion pizza. And if the wintry weather makes you feel cold during your stroll around the Zibelemärit, you can easily warm yourself up with a cup of mulled wine.
A centuries-old tradition
There are many legends around the origins of the Zibelemärit. According to one, the market dates back to Bern’s great fire of 1405. The people of Fribourg are thought to have hurried to help the Bernese who had lost their belongings. As a sign of gratitude, people from Fribourg were allowed to sell their onions in the Swiss capital every autumn from then on.