For almost 300 years, the traditional “Chästeilet” has been celebrated in the idyllic Justistal valley in the Bernese Oberland on the Spycherberg above Lake Thun. This age-old custom serves to distribute the alpine cheese produced in summer fairly among the farmers in the region. The distribution is based on a fixed distribution formula that takes into account the number of cows milked and the amount of milk produced.
The Justistal valley in the Bernese Oberland is known for its picturesque alpine pastures, where cows graze in summer and produce delicious milk. This milk is processed into cheese on the alpine pastures, the so-called “Sennhütten”, and shaped into characteristic wheels. Every year in September, the farmers gather in Justistal for the Chästeilet festival. On this special day, the wheels of Alpine cheese produced are divided up fairly between the farmers in a ceremonial act.
The day of the Alpine retreat is a magnificent event on which the dairymen and women parade down into the valley in traditional costume with decorated cattle. The Chästeilet festival is not only an opportunity to share the hard-earned cheese fairly, but also a social gathering of the community to celebrate the success of the Alpine season. This traditional custom strengthens the bond with rural tradition and the art of cheese-making in the region. It pays tribute to the hard work of the farmers and emphasizes the importance of cheese culture in the Justistal.
Video JUSTISTAL CHÄSTEILET
Distribution of cheese wheels to Swiss Alpine farmers at the end of the summer.
Video Chästeilet Justistal
The traditional “Chästeilet” has been taking place on the Spycherberg in the Justistal valley for almost 300 years. During the alpine summer, the alpine herdsmen make cheese from the milk of over 250 cows. These belong to farmers from the municipality of Sigriswil. At the end of the summer, the cheese is divided among the farmers according to a centuries-old ritual*, the “Chästeilet”. Afterwards, the dairymen and women parade down into the valley in traditional costume with their decorated cattle.