10 francs – Gansabhauet Sursee
On St. Martin's Day, 11 November, a large number of customs and traditions are celebrated all over Switzerland. This has not come about by chance but reflects the fact that this date once marked the beginning of the forty-day fasting period before Christmas. The harvest had been gathered in, farmhands and maidservants received their wages and the authorities claimed their tithes. Among the taxes were geese, and farmers were able to curry favour with the lords of the manor by serving a fattened St. Martin's Day goose. In Sursee, however, the goose plays a very different role, one in which it literally loses its head. At the 'Gansabhauet', two dead geese are suspended by the neck, one after the other, from a wire rope on a stage erected in front of the Town Hall. Young men and occasionally also women, dressed in red cloaks, a sun mask placed over their heads, try to sever the goose's neck with a single sabre blow. To ensure that this is not too easy, a pointed cap is pulled down over the participants' faces, preventing them from seeing, the dragoon sabre is blunt and a glass of red wine together with a number of 360° turns are sufficient to cause confusion. It generally takes from five to twenty strokes to behead both geese. Successful participants are rewarded with the goose. The event is accompanied by children's attractions such as pole climbing, sack racing and 'Chäszänne', in which the aim is to win a piece of cheese by making the craziest possible grimace.