Friday, March 29, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Eemaischen

With Easter Monday fast approaching, it is time for yet another lesson about Luxembourgish traditions, namely Eemaischen, or Éimaischen, or sometimes even Emaischen, nobody really seems to be sure.

However spelled correctly, the name derives from Emmaus, an ancient town located close to Jerusalem, and the place of one of the early resurrection appearances of Jesus. For those not too well-versed in the Bible: On their way to Emmaus Cleopas and another unnamed disciple encountered Jesus without recognising him. They expressed their sorrow about the recent events that had occured in Jerusalem and then persuaded the stranger to have supper with them; only during the course of the meal, they recognised him as Jesus. (Luke 24:13-32)

Little Prince Guillaume with his
parents and a Péckvillchen.
(Photo: Thierry Martin)
Every year on Easter Monday, Eemaischen is celebrated in the City of Luxembourg, around the Fishmarket, and in the village of Nospelt. It most important feature are the Péckvillecher, little handmade earthenware whistles shaped like birds.

It is often said that the bird whistles were traditionally given to each other by lovers but there does not seem to be historical prove to the claim. Today they seem especially popular with children.

On Easter Monday the potters traditionally celebrated the feast of the guild at the Église Saint-Michel, the mass was followed by a pottery market. Even though believed to be much older, the first official mention of Eemaischen occurred in 1827, when a police official suggested to the town council to move it to the Fishmarket in order to reduce the noise in front of the church.

The majority of the Péckvillecher came from the nearby village of Nospelt, where many potters were located since at least 1458. During the day they manufactured all kinds of pottery and in the evening they used the leftover red-brown clay to form the little bird whistles.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Eemaischen changed from being a sole pottery market to a market for all kinds of products. In 1914, the pottery production in Nospelt ended and from then on, the Eemaischen festival declined though whistles, imported from the German Eiffel region, were still sold.

Princess Margaretha, Prince Henri,
Prince Jean, Princess Marie-Astrid and
Hereditary Grand Duchess Joséphine-
Charlotte at the Eemaischen in 1962
(Photo: René Weydert /
The history of Eemaischen as it is known today started in 1937 when some inhabitants of the old town revived the old tradition. To this day the Comité Alstad organises the festival. In 1938, Jean Peters of Reckental produced the first Luxembourgish Péckvillecher in more than twenty years using the same red-brown clay from Nospelt. Since 1957, the festival has also been celebrated in Nospelt itself.

Today, Eemaischen is much more than a simple pottery market. All kinds of arts as well as food and drinks can be bought at the market. In addition there is a series of events, dance and musical acts performed in the old town.

(For more information about the events taking place have a look at Wort.)

As the Péckvillecher never look quite the same, they are much loved collectibles. The children of the Grand Ducal Family have been avid collectors themselves as members of the family can regularly be seen at the Eemaischen festival.

Many more pictures of the Eemaischen throughout the years can be found at Wort. If you look closely, you will find various members of the Grand Ducal Family in the photos.


  1. Thank You for a most interesting post. I learned something new and really wonderful. The pictures are beautiful also. I love this family and your blog!!!!