March 18, 2019

Luxembourg - Local traditions I know and like

I love to connect with local, ancient traditions wherever I live. In Dublin I went from a spectator at the St. Patrick's Day parade, to a volunteer and then a coordinator, in my hometown I took part in a local pottery fair almost every year, it was the place where I was first introduced into the art and craft of pottery and tried for the first time a potter's wheel, so it made sense to do the same here in Luxembourg.

Although here I'm not as hands on as in the other places, I love to take part in celebrations and traditions if I can. I've decided to tie them to the seasons, cause some of them are connected to the passing of the seasons. Let's start with,


The Carnival Season

The tradition is not singular to Luxembourg as all the neighbouring countries (except France) have their form of carnival, but everywhere it has the same meaning, it is the party before the lent, a time to wear costume and act silly before the celebrations related to Easter. In Luxembourg the carnival is called "Fuesent" and tradition dictates that the first carnival is the one in Diekirch.

The Bonfire Day

Also known as Buergbrennen it is a pagan ritual related to the spring solstice. Strongly connected to Luxembourg's agrarian past, the Buergbrennen symbolises the burning of winter and welcoming of spring. It consists in burning a pile of wood and the remaining of the Christmas trees, usually shaped as crosses or as castles (buerg = castle).

The Pretzel Sunday

Also a local celebration related to Easter and lent, the Pretzel Sunday (Bretzelsonndeg) is breaking the fasting, which is a 40 days of eating mostly fruits, vegetables and occasionally fish. All I know about it is that it brings good luck to eat a pretzel on that particular Sunday and that of course it is a celebration for the pastry chefs.

Easter Monday or Emaichen

The pottery whistles shaped as birds celebration takes place every year on Easter Monday. It is a way of getting out of the house after the Easter feast, traditionally celebrated within the family. The Péckvillercher are hand crafted whistles shaped as birds and they are sold at the ceramic fair organised with this occasion in the centre of Luxembourg City and in the small town of Nospelt. In old times Luxembourg was a very prosperous pottery centre and its core was in Nospelt. There you will find a pottery museum and discover the history behind this local celebration.

The Rubber Duck Race

Organised after Easter the race consists of thousands rubber ducks which float on the Petrusse stream in the Grund area. They have numbers on them and the first duck to arrive wins a price. It is organised for charity and I think one duck costs 5 euros.


The National Day 

Luxembourgish people celebrate on their National Day the Grand Duke's birthday. Although the actual Grand Duke was not born on June 23rd, the date was kept after the Grand Duchess Charlotte, the grandmother of the duke. They organise a torch lit procession and a grand fireworks display enjoyed by locals and expats.

The BD Festival in Contern

BD is Bande Designee or Comics and the festival takes place in late July in the town of Contern in western part of Luxembourg. For a whole weekend the town is closed to cars and opened to the BD fans from all over the area. They have cosplay competitions, meet-ups with celebrities from this field, BD magazines sales and many other interesting things.

The Schueberfouer

Also related to their agrarian past, the Schueberfouer is the summer fair, it has a tradition of over 600 years and it was the place to sell your garden produce or your livestock. In our days it is a fun fair with roller coasters and food stands organised for eight days in the Glacis area.


The Vianden Nut Market

The fall traditions are all related to the earth products which are harvested in this season. One of them are the walnuts from which the Luxembourgish people make from gems and bread to alcoholic beverages. They meet for a weekend in Vianden, which gets very crowded very fast, but it is the only place from where to buy the famous walnut liquor traditional to this area. This celebration is usually held on the second Sunday of October.

The Steinsel Apple Picking Festival

The apple orchards in Steinsel are renowned in the area and one of them organises this apple picking festival. People come there to pick apples for which they pay by the kilogram, but it is a fun day out with the family, children enjoy playing in the orchard. There are also apple pies to be bought or you can squeeze your own apple juice from the apples you picked from the orchard.

The Moselle Wine Tasting Events

Less interesting for the kids, but equally fun are the Wine Tasting Events organised by various wineries on the Moselle Valley. In essence there is a walking tour of the winery followed by a tasting. Occasionally they bring local bands for entertainment and it is also a nice day to be spent out if it doesn't rain.

Steampunk Convention

Organised on the last weekend of September the Steampunk Convention is well known among the fans of this genre. For the rest of us it is a fun weekend spent in the sun on the deserted tran station in Fond-de-Gras. They have vintage train rides, animations and live music, visits of the mines, souvenirs and foods and beverages.


The Coat Sunday

Halloween is not a local celebration, but instead in Luxembourg they have Mantelsonndeg. So on the Sunday before the All Saints Day all the shops in Luxembourg City are opened and the coats prices are a little bit reduced as the locals like to buy new coats for winter in that particular day. According to legend, that was the only day the rural population working on the countryside had a chance to shop for a new warm coat before the All Saints Day when traditionally people visit the graves of their loved ones.

The Chrismas Markets

Every village and town in Luxembourg organises a Christmas Market. Big or small, opened the whole month of December or just during weekends, it is guarantied that you will find there small crafts, Christmas decorations, grilled sausages and mulled wine. Although it is a tradition imported from Germany, the Christmas Market is organised in Luxembourg and all the neighbouring countries. One thing though, in Luxembourg the market closes on December 24th so during the Christmas time Luxembourg is not a fun town anymore as the locals prefer to spent the holidays within the family or in exotic and warmer places.

Across the border

In Arlon the local celebrations are similar, they have the carnival in the spring and the Christmas Market in the winter, but they also have the Maitrank and the sumer braderie.

The Maitrank 

Celebrated on the forth weekend of the month of May, the Maitrank is a local wine made not from vine but from a flower called sweet woodruff, which to me is very similar to hemp. Its recipe is a guarded secret and the drink is served with oranges and other spices. The highlight of the celebration is making a fountain serve this flowery wine. The Arlonais have a big celebration in the middle of the town with live music, finger food and of course this flowery wine.  

The Summer Braderie

Braderie is the flea market and it is organised on the first Sunday of each month from March to November on the streets of Arlon. What they do, is close all the city centre to cars and open stalls for people selling antiques or old or vintage stuff. If you are into such a thing or even if you, like me, like to just stroll around, it is a fun thing. I think it is also a window into the past of this area and I like to look at what people used to decorate their houses with or used in their everyday lives, long ago.

As inspiration I've used this article which at the end has references to other festivals and traditions from other countries.

So there are the local traditions I know and like. There may be more and as usually I would love to chat with you on my social media platforms. You can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle_ralu and on Facebook at

No comments: