Switzerland's colorful 'ugly mask' festival kicks off - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Switzerland's colorful 'ugly mask' festival kicks off

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In Lucerne, Switzerland, scary masks are donned toby marchers in the centuries-old parade that marks the end of winter. (Source: CNN) In Lucerne, Switzerland, scary masks are donned toby marchers in the centuries-old parade that marks the end of winter. (Source: CNN)

(CNN/CCTV) The Lucerne Carnival in Switzerland began last week with people wearing all kinds of ugly masks to chase away the winter and make way for the spring.

The ugly mask tradition is a major attraction at the Lucerne Carnival, and the bizarre images may be found in the parade as well as show windows.

Ugly masks are used to chase away the winter, because the winter in Switzerland is so long, says Marcel Perren, the managing director for Lucerne Tourism.

The festival runs for six days and during that time, the skies of Lucerne assume a party atmosphere with lantern-lit parading, musical groups and hundreds of people dressed in masks and costumes spreading joy on the streets.

The origin of the Lucerne Carnival traces back to the 15th century. It is marked by the figure Fritschi, an elderly man, and his wife who lead every year's carnival parade, ahead of throngs of other people wearing ugly masks.

One mask the story that the Fritschi family used ugly masks to scare the god of winter away, helping the god of spring arrive.

Musical groups played while parading, also donning ugly masks, using the loud sound of their music to help drive the winter away.

This year's Lucerne Carnival began Thursday morning and will last until next Tuesday.

The date happened to coincide with the Chinese Spring Festival, so this year, many Chinese people appeared in the parade wearing colorful costumes and waving traditional fans.

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