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When cows wear flowers in their hair

While Bavaria's economy is shaping the future at record speed, some traditions are still upheld just as they were hundreds of years ago. The best example is the way the cattle are ceremonially driven down from the mountain pastures in autumn – a tradition known in the Allgäu as “Viehschied”.

Animals returning at Königsee

When the mountain summer draws to a close, the herdsmen bring the young animals back down into the valley and return them to their owners, decorated with Alpine flowers and large bells to express gratitude for a pasture season without incident.

Return after around 100 days on the Alpine pastures
The return of the beautifully decorated animals is not just an eye-catcher that attracts large numbers of visitors every year, but above all a sign that everything has gone well: the animals are only decorated if nothing has happened to a single one of them. After all, their summer stay on the mountain pastures can also be potentially dangerous for the animals, up to and including the risk of falling. But the advantages far outweigh this. Herdsmen have always driven the young animals up into the mountains in spring to make them more robust and resistant – strengthened by the fresh mountain air, juicy grass and healthy Alpine herbs.

In Berchtesgadener Land, bringing the animals back is no easy task. The steep mountainsides on both sides of the Königsee lake mean that the only way is through the water.

Those who want to watch the colourful happenings should arrive early to secure a good spot, as many of these “Viehscheid” events in Bavaria have now become real visitor attractions:

-    13.09.2014, Schwangau, 12.30 pm
-    16.09.2014, Nesselwang, 9.30 am
-    20.09.2014, Krün, near Mittenwald, 11.00 am
-    20.09.2014, Immenstadt, 9.00 am
-    21.09.2014, Mittenwald (with festival), 11.00 am
-    27.09.2014, Ramsau-Hintersee, 10.00 am (alternatively 01.10.)

You can find more information here.