Zug Carnival tradition, 13.01.2022

Greth Schell celebrates her 301st birthday

On the occasion of the not-quite-round anniversary of the Zug carnival custom of Greth Schell and her seven ‘Löli’, the Guild of Carpenters, Turners and Coopers is donating a baby’s romper suit in a Greth Schell or Löli design to every new-born Zug child.

Due to the Corona pandemic, the Zug Guild of Carpenters, Turners and Coopers (Zunft der Schreiner, Drechsler und Küfer) will be celebrating a not-very-round anniversary in 2022 in its function as patron of the Greth Schell carnival custom. There are actually three anniversaries: the Zug custom was launched 301 years ago, the guild has been responsible for it for 150 years, and the Guild Music (Zunftmusik) has been accompanying the event on Güdelmontag (Carnival Monday, on 28th February in 2022) for the last 75 years.

On the occasion of these memorable anniversaries, a commission of the guild of the "Hölzigen", to which Stephan Kamer also belongs, has come up with a whole series of products in the Greth Schell design, which will be given away and sold during the anniversary year. The most spectacular of these is a long-sleeved baby’s romper suit in size 80-86, which is given to all new parents for their child born in the anniversary year. "The four different models were created by the Zug-based graphic designer Regi Meier," reports Stephan Kamer.

Colourfully spotted
All bear the inscription "301 years of Greth Schell from 1721" on their chest in a round, orange signet, from which the typical ‘Löli’ horns protrude. Some models sport the coloured polka dots that also adorn the costumes of the carnival figures, others are labelled "Greth" or "Löli".

"The Zug Cantonal Hospital is very pleased to participate in the celebration of the 301-year 'Greth Schell' custom and to be able to present a spotted baby romper suit to the parents of the new-borns in 2022 on behalf of the Guild of Carpenters, Turners and Coopers of the city of Zug," writes Sonja Metzger, communications officer for the hospital. "The employees of the hospital found it very cool, and were happy about it," she adds.

Crazy custom
On its ‘Haupbotttag’ (main event day), Güdelmontag, the guild holds its general assembly in the morning, before letting the figures of Greth Schell and the seven Löli, accompanied by the sounds of the Guild Music, dance around the streets of the old town between 4 and 5 pm. The eight figures and the members of the guild hand out sausages, rolls and oranges to the children, who gain their attention by shouting “Greth-Schällebei” and have to watch out for being hit by the Löli with their ‘Süüblatere’ (inflated pigs’ bladders).

"This year, there will be a special tour with a stop at the Greth Schell Fountain, where the guild music will play," reveals Kamer. And the specially composed Greth Schell March will, of course, also be sung.

"New robes and masks were made when the guild took over the organisation of the custom." The historical masks are now archived in the Museum Burg Zug, and the six original Löli were joined by the figure of the "Baster" in 1946.

"Today he is called the ‘Unehelichen’ (the illegitimate). His costume has holes framed in colours of various shapes, so to speak, the negatives of the polka dots on the costumes of his colleagues."

In addition to him, two other Löli have their own names, the "Brun" (brown), named after his brown mask, and the "Zyt" (time), who has a clock dial on his back.

  1. At the Greth-Schell-fountain on the old town of Zug, the two guild members Stephan Kamer (left) and Roland Küttel present the new baby romper suit collection from the Zug-based graphic designer Regi Meier.               Stefan Kaiser, Zug
  2. One of the models that the Zug-based graphic designer Regi Meier created for the Greth Schell anniversary, worn by a young "Hölzigen".             Photo: PD
  3. The guild music plays at the Greth Schell Fountain.
  4. Greth Schell and the Löli in Zug's old town, surrounded by a crowd of children.
  5. The Löli with the name "Zyt" and the dial on his back distributes treats to the children.
  6. The ‘Unehelichen’ wears an outfit with polka dot negatives. In the background the «Brun» with his dark mask.                                 Pictures: Christian H. Hildebrand, Zug
  7. A bag in the Greth Schell design, together with a ‘Lölibier’ (Löli beer) and kirsch (cherry liquor) were also produced on the occasion of the anniversary. In the picture, Roland Küttel (left) and Stephan Kamer, two members of the Zug Guild of Carpenters, Turners and Coopers.                             Stefan Kaiser, Zug                                                                                  


Special promotion of youth
In recent years. the guild has found that not as many children have participated in the custom as would be desirable. "The schools don’t promote participation very much," regrets Kamer. "This is also difficult because the event sometimes falls during the sports holidays."

That is why the Jubilee Commission has decided to pursue a very special promotion of youth talent with the romper suits. It is about addressing the target audience directly and reviving the custom. "There is a stamp on the romper on which the history of the custom is briefly explained." (see box)

2400 romper suits were produced, half of which will be given away and the other half sold. In addition, 301 bottles of Lölikirsch (cherry liquor), produced by Etter Söhne AG, 301 cloth bags in the Greth Schell design of the Zug institution Consol, and an anniversary Baarer Löli beer, which will served throughout the year in 15 inns in Zug's city centre, are also available.

Greth Schell really existed
The legend tells of the city original Margarethe, known as called ‘Greth Schell’, who felt compelled at a late hour to pick up her wine-loving husband from the inn at the beginning of the 18th century, and then carry him home in a "Chrätze" (back basket). She was thereby accompanied by the ‘Löli’ (idiots), the man's no less cheerful drinking buddies. "Greth Schell really existed. She was a progressive teacher and was ahead of her time," says guild member Stephan Kamer. “The minutes of a city council meeting from the time states that she proposed to teach girls and boys together." He doesn’t know whether the legend was just an attempt at defamation.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the Zug Guild of Carpenters, Turners and Coopers, which has around 90 members, commissioned the local author Rémy Frick with the rewriting of Greth Schell's story. This was presented by the author himself for the first time at last year's Märlisunntig (fairy tale Sunday).

A fountain in the Unter Altstadt is dedicated to the carnival figure Greth Schell. It was probably built towards the end of the 18th century. The Greth Schell figure on the fountain was created by the Lucerne sculptor Rolf Brem in 1977.


The baby romper suits are available in the Zug boutiques Les Deux Men and Passage, as well as the Lanalu Children's Boutique in Cham for CHF 29. For more information, see www.schreinerzunft.ch