As a self-confessed queen of sloth I might not be the best person to blog about this, but since it is a very special and long-standing sporting event in Geneva I can’t possibly skip it.
Get ready, set and go on Saturday 6th of December 2014 for the 37th Escalade Race, which takes place every year in Geneva’s old town on the first Saturday of December.
The race is a fun family event because both children and adults, beginners and professional runners can take part to win it or just enjoy the different types of entertainment that are organised along the race track, including live music, vin chaud, bouncy castles, hot soup and the traditional Escalade bread. If you’re not planning to run but would rather watch, the race is still a fantastic and fun-packed event for all, so don’t miss it.
The day of the course de l’Escalade ends with the torch-lit Marmite Race (no relation to the British food spread, marmite is French for “cooking pot”), which starts at 6.30pm and is an opportunity for the whole family to dress up in fancy costumes (be as daring and inventive as you can!) and run together to the finishing line where the traditional chocolate marmites are smashed and then eaten together.
The Genevan chocolate marmites are really delicious, you’ve probably spotted them piled high in every supermarket, chocolaterie and boulangerie in the last few weeks. The outside is made of dark, milk or white chocolate shaped as an old-fashioned cooking pot bearing the coat of arms of the canton of Geneva (the imperial eagle on its left half and the yellow key of St. Peter on the right) and the date 1602.
They come in many sizes, from tiny to quite enourmous, and contain vegetables, pieces of lard made out of almond paste and also some chocolates wrapped in yellow and red paper to simbolize the colours of Geneva’s canton.
Tradition requires the youngest child in each family to smash the marmite with one blow and pronounce the words “(qu’)ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République!” (“so may perish the enemies of our Republic” translation is mine so not at all perfect !).
The history behind this ancient Genevan tradition is really fascinating and closely linked to the Fête de l’Escalade celebrations, which will take place next weekend on the 7th-9th of December 2012, so if you would like to know more about it come back soon for part 2 of this post!