The Onion Market Happening in Bernes Alt Stadt (Old Town) takes place every November on the fourth Monday. It is believed that every year on this day over 50 tonnes of different varieties of onions and garlic are brought into the Swiss Capital by neighbouring farmers to sell. The classic example is the braided garlands and wreaths of red and white onions, shallots plaited with dried herbs and flowers to form a design.
The Onion market is thought to date back to as far as the 1400s. In the 1400s only Berne residents were allowed to sell their produce within its area to stop prices rising and there was less competition. However, there was a large fire in Berne in 1405-which neighbouring farmers from Fribourg assisted and helped with. Therefore as a thank you and a reward the city allowed their farmers to come to Berne every year for the day to sell their produce to the city.
There are later thoughts of how the festivities began. Some believe it to have begun in the 1850s when farmers wives from Murten used to bring their produce to sell into Berne on St Martins Day.
The market offers lots of goodies to feast on ranging from the classic Onion Soup, Onion quiche (Kuchen), Kurbis soup (pumpkin/squash) and garlic bread to copious amounts of Gluwein available to drink! Lots of pop up stalls sell the Gluwein and also ApfelPunsch (alcoholfrei).
Other stalls at the market include any thing from hand made pottery, apple fritters and leather goods to huge slabs of nougat of different flavours which you request a slice of. Also many stalls sell pretend ‘onion garlands’ which are colourful wrapped sweet chains to wear around your neck in all different sweet flavours!
As part of the market (Although I reckon not a tradition as such!) children buy paper confetti in bags and throw a handful at unsuspecting victims as they walk along the streets-I got covered in paper stars and the next day discovered a handful in my coat hood! : )
The market can start as early at 4 or 5am for people who want to get first pickings and it accumulates with a confetti battle by the children and teenagers at 4pm.
We visited the market this year and thought it was amazing! there was a lot of people to bustle through but we got some good Christmas goodies, some onion soup and Gluwein to top it! : ) a very good day out had by all.
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Below are some photos from the day including myself with the aftermath of a confetti attack! a stall holder making apple rings for the fritters and many onion garlands!