Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buergbrennen This Sunday

The long list of winter’s end celebrations in Luxembourg continues this Sunday, March 13 - rain or shine - with Buergbrennen, a ritual that is uniquely Luxembourgish. Traditionally held on the first Sunday after Carnival, Buergbrennen is a giant bonfire that is lit in order to chase away the winter, so the spring can arrive. And aren’t we all ready for that?

The Luxembourg Ville celebration starts at 12pm this Sunday in the Pétrusse Valley with music, childrens’ activities, the obligatory (and always necessary) sausage and beer trucks, and hopefully a little bit of gromperekichelcher – deep fried potato pancakes (order them with apfelmus) a traditional Luxembourgish festival food.

The bonfire is made of course, of wood; in many towns, the wood comes from Christmas trees that have since dried out and become excellent kindling. But it’s the giant cross that sits at the top of the woodpile that might concern unsuspecting Americans, who are used to seeing this kind of image in a very different, very negative context. In Luxembourg, however, remember that this sight is a happy thing – this burning cross is chasing away the evil spirits of winter and lighting the way for spring to arrive!

Immediately preceding the lighting of the bonfire, you’ll see a very short 10-20 minute torch procession. The Luxembourg City Tourism Office explained to me that, in smaller towns, the torches are carried by the couple married most recently, and this couple lights the fire together with their torches. (Um…fertility ritual, anyone?) In Luxembourg Ville, however - where the biggest Buergbrennen is held - local clubs will light the fire.

The bonfire will be lit between 7pm and 7:30pm at the bottom of the Schlittenhiwwel. This is the large, grassy sledding hill (schlittenhiwwel = sledding hill) that you can see across the valley from both Place de la Constitution and from along Boulevard F.D. Roosevelt. But do yourself a favor and get there early to enjoy the torch procession, sausage in one hand, and a cold Luxembourgish brew to wash it down, in the other.

Directions to the Lux Ville Buergbrennen
To get there, you can take the steps down into the Pétrusse Valley from the top of the entrance to the Pétrusse Casemates at Place de la Constitution; just keep descending toward the noise and you should see the festivities when you reach the bottom.

Or, you can take the elevator from Plateau du Saint Esprit down into the Grund. After exiting, walk to the right down Rue Saint-Ulric, until you get to the small parking lot at Rue Saint Quirin. Here, turn right and walk through the parking lot and past the mini golf, which will be on your right, then just keep heading straight along the path. From there, you can’t miss the action.

Other Buergbrennen Events Throughout Luxembourg
There are scores of Buergbrennen bonfires taking place in towns all across Luxembourg this weekend. RTL published a long list of times and locations yesterday, which you can find at this link. There are also some excellent photos from Buergbrennens past on that RTL link, so you may want to check it out even if you’re planning to stay in Lux Ville and head to the Pétrusse Valley.

Fair warning, the article is written in Luxembourgish. But, you’ll be able to at least learn from this site whether your town is holding its event on Saturday or Sunday, and you’ll be able to tell the start time. If you don’t recognize the event location from this list, try calling the organizing group listed for your town, or call your town‘s tourist or municipal office.

If you can’t find the number for your town’s tourist or municipal office, it may be possible to obtain phone information from the National Tourist Office at 42 82 82 20.

Additional Information:
  • Buergbrennen in the Pétrusse Valley ( In English. 
  • Luxembourg lights up for Buergbrennen ( In English. 
  • Luxembourg on fire: Dëse Weekend brennen d'Buergen erëm! ( In Luxembourgish. 
  • Buergbrennen (fête des Brandons) (Luxembourg City Tourism Office) In French. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the directions to the Buergbrennen in Lux City, unfortunately we won't be able to make it today. But I hope you two are having a great time! Can't wait to read the recap!