In Bregaglia Valley, “Calendamarz” is the day when one says goodbye to the long and severe winter and welcomes the upcoming spring.
During Roman times, the 1st of March, was the first day of the year and was celebrated with reconciliatory and purifying rites. It is a tradition reminiscent of old pagan festivals where the rebirth of nature was celebrated. Early in the morning, in each village, children decorate themselves with colorful paper flowers and youth get dressed up in their traditional farmer’s shirts to celebrate, as they say in Bregaglia, “Chalandamarz.” Many wear a bell (the bigger, the better) to ring loudly and drive away the evil spirits of winter. Some also blow horns or beat drums. The children wander through the village waving flags and ringing their bells to frighten away the harsh winter season. The parade stops in front of houses and in the village squares, where cheerful songs are sung to welcome the arrival of spring. In return, they receive donations and gifts, mostly sweets. Chestnuts and cream are served at lunchtime. In the afternoon, the little ones continue their parades through the villages and the older ones partake in the “Chalandamarz”dance. “Chalandamarz” is also celebrated in Engadin, Mustair Valley and Bivio.