Brush off the winter blues with a fiery event known as Bonfire Sunday (Funkensonntag) in the region of Allgäu.
This special event takes place on the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday and has over time transformed from a simple, traditional event into a communal festival which sees villagers and tourists gathered together to welcome a new and prosperous season and year with an enormous bonfire.
The origin of Funkensonntag
Funkensonntag is held mostly in the Swabian-Alemannic region, which includes Liechtenstein, the Black Forest region, Allgäu, Upper Swabia, and also in eastern France.
The exact origin of Funkensonntag remains a mystery, but many believe it was a symbolic event to usher the new year, ward off evil and represent fertility and strength.
The bonfire consists of piles of straw, old Christmas trees or simply a huge stack of wooden towers and sometimes even a small witch doll made of straw, which represents evil. It is mostly held at a large, empty meadow in front of the village, where visitors can get together and witness the grand event.
Attending the Funkensonntag
Watching the flames from up close may be enough to satisfy your ringing-in-the-new-year vibe, but many villages and towns are preparing something more than just a bonfire - no celebration is complete without food and drink!
Hot mulled wine (Glühwein) and special cakes called bonfire cakes (Funkenküchle) will be served in most venues, while others will offer other various drinks and treats for visitors to enjoy.
While all of the villages that participate in this special event promise to put on a feast for the eyes, we recommend the older, more elevated villages such as Berghofen, Burgberg and Bihlerdorf for a more dramatic and scenic view.
The bonfire will surely help to warm you up, but it is still recommended to don warm clothes and sensible shoes for the occasion, since the weather can change at the drop of a hat. For more information and tips on Funkensonntag, visit the Allgäu official website.