The Traditional Zussl Race
The Banishing of Winter in Prato allo Stelvio
The banishing of winter and the race of the Zussl are ancient traditional customs practiced only in Prato allo Stelvio/Prad am Stilfserjoch. Every year at this time, there is a carnival procession and a noisy ritual repeated exactly the same way. On Shrove Tuesday the town’s youth wear white costumes adorned with colored flowers made of paper and large bells, some as heavy as 20 kg, are worn around the waist of the males.
The Zussl are dressed in white from head to toe and adorned with colored ribbons and paper pulp flowers. Tied around their waists, they wear large noisy bells, which often weigh over 20 kilos. The Zussl are accompanied by the Six White Horses – young men disguised as white horses which drag an old plough behind them.
The parade is moved along by the Carter, who skilfully snaps his long whip (Goaßl) in the air, producing loud cracks that are audible throughout the mountains. The Carter is followed by the Sower, who instead of grain throws sawdust into the crowd, and the parade continues on with the procession of Peasants before concluding with an appearance by the Merry Couple, clad in rags.