Welcome to the Canton of Bern
After a short winter break, we were eager to get back on the road to discover new cheese dairies and to taste something new and incredible. We decided for our first road trip of 2020, we would explore the western part of canton Bern. We were lucky enough to make this trip before COVID-19 appeared in Switzerland.
Bern is the second largest canton in Switzerland by land area and population, so it is no surprise that the geography differs from one end to the other. As we traveled through the region, we were amazed to see how the landscape and climate changed from valley to valley, from green Spring pastures to snow-covered hills. It’s no doubt that the air of the Jura mountains imparts its characteristics to the artisanal cheeses made here.
Our Discoveries in Bern
Overview of the Canton
Land Area: 5 959,59 km2
Population: 1 034 977 (Decembre 2018)
Admission to the Swiss Confederation: 1353
Language: Swiss German, French
Zibelemärit (Onion Market)
We always like to share a little story or event from the canton because it reflects the local culture and traditions.
The Zibelemärit is a traditional farmer’s market and folk festival that dates back to the 15th century. Every year on the 4th Monday in November, farmers come to Bern carrying more than 50 tons of red, yellow, and white onions and garlic. The onions and garlic are presented in artistically woven braids that are oftentimes adorned with colorful dried flowers. The beautiful braids can be used for decoration, given as gifts, and enjoyed in your favorite onion recipes!
Throughout the streets of Bern’s old town, there are over 200 stalls selling onion and garlic braids. If you get hungry, there are many delicious onion snacks to nibble made with onions, including onion tarts, onion soup, pizza with onions, sausage with onions. During our visit last November, we even discovered cheese infused with onions!
How did the Zibelemärit first start? It is said that after the great fire of 1405 that devastated Bern, the people of Fribourg quickly came to their aid. To thank them, the Bernese allowed the Fribourgeois to come and sell their onions in Bern every autumn.