Burning off the winter - Sun 5th March 2017 after sunset
On the 1st Sunday after Carnival, towns all over the Grand Duchy celebrate a special annual event known as ‘Buergsonndeg’ where large torches are lit to symbolically chase away the winter.
Although the burning crosses can be an unusual sight, thousands of people attend this ancient traditional event every year and it is jolly good fun – if you ask us! The ‘Buergen’ are set alight on hilltops across the country and the blaze of the raging fire can be seen for miles at night. The huge wooden stakes are made out of wood, straw and pitch often constructed by the local youngsters together with the firefighters who frequently also organize a torch-lit procession from the town to the ‘Buerg’.
A similar pagan custom has been observed around the time of the spring equinox since ancient times. The blaze symbolizes the end of winter and the rebirth of spring, the triumph of warmth over the cold and of light over darkness. Although ‘Buerg’ in Luxembourgian means ‘castle’ linguists tell us that the word itself has in fact nothing to do with a castle. Its etymology comes from the Latin verb ‘burere’, meaning ‘to burn’.
The event usually starts in the early evening with a torchlight procession and ends with the lighting of the fire as darkness falls. Grilled food and traditional dishes including ‘Ierzebulli’ (pea soup), and ‘Glühwäin’ (mulled wine) are served among others. Often people also sing songs and the sight of the burning crosses against the backdrop of the night makes an impressive sight. At the Fox we highly recommend it as it is a great way to get to know local traditions and folklore over a glass of mulled wine watching the fire consume ‘winter’ and hasten the arrival of spring. What’s not to like?
Where can I see this event in the capital?
1. Buergbrennen Stroossen – starts: Sunday 5th March 7pm / meeting point: rue des carrières
2. Buergbrennen Walfer – starts: Sunday 5th March 7pm / meeting point: centre Prince Henri
3. Buergbrennen Bertrange – starts: Sunday 5th March 6pm / meeting point: the local church