The return of the cows is particularly celebrated in the alpine region of the Allgau. At the beginning of the summer, when the vegetation has really started to grow up in the mountains, cattle are herded up into high alpine pastures, where the herbal grasses are particularly good for their physical condition. Here they’ll be looked after by a cowherd or team of cowherds and their dogs, who’ll continue to do all the daily milking, fence mending etc necessary, and sometimes also offer milk, cheese and other forms of refreshment to passing walkers. This tradition of almost nomadic pastoralism, still very widespread in eastern Europe, involves around 30,000 cows in Germany.
Come the end of September, when it starts to get colder, the herdsmen bring them down again (the Almabtrieb). To celebrate that there were no cattle injuries or losses during their stay high up in the mountains, the leading cow is adorned with flowers, spruce, and sometimes a cross or mirror to deflect evil spirits. All the cows wear big cowbells, polished especially for this occasion. Upon arrival at the village green, the cows are separated from each other (the Viehscheid), the herdsman calls out the name of the owners and each owner takes care of his cows, presumably grateful that his investment has been returned, safe and sound, and hopefully considerably fatter.
There is always a big party when the cows come home, with a large beer-tent, an orchestra playing and dancing.
Come and celebrate with us in many villages around Fussen!