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Biike Burning

Biike Burning

A typical North Frisian custom celebrated on the island of Sylt is the Biike Burning. This folk festival and its mythical origins are celebrate every year on the 21st of February, and is supposed to end the winter, which is embodied in a scarecrow or barrel (the Biike), which later falls into the fire.

Biike Burning traditionally takes place on the day before the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. This is one of the Catholic Church’s commemoration days, however, it is also an important date for old island customs. In some regions it was considered to be the start of spring, but in Sylt this date gained its importance due to seafaring in the middle ages. This was where the winter break ended and spring began, which meant the resumption of whale hunting after a long winter. In order to accompany the departing men on the ships as long as possible, fires were lit that were able to be seen far out into sea.

Biike Burning is considered to be a 'national celebration' in Sylt and is carried out by a large part of the population. Towns and districts compete with one another to see who can present the biggest Biike. The celebration only comes to an end when the barrel or the scarecrow falls into the fire.