The Original Sausage Fest: The Swiss Reformation in 1522

The most interesting thing to come out of the Refo500 celebrations is a cantata produced to celebrate the beginning of the Swiss Reformation – an event which has become known as the “Affair of the Sausages”.

Back in 1522, the Catholic Church made it compulsory that every Christian should fast for Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. But the reformer Ulrich Zwingli believed that fasting should be voluntary – a matter of individual choice. So while most of the town of Zürich was fasting, he joined in a rebellion at the house of Christoph Froschauer, a printer, in which two smoked sausages were cut up and distributed among his workers.

A cantata was written last year by composer Edward Rushton and lyricist Ulrich Knellwolf, to commemorate what might be considered the most momentous sausage-eating act in all of Christian history. The piece is called… “Geist und Wurst”.

Yes: “Spirit and Sausage”.

Here are some excerpts:

Performances in Switzerland over the last year have been followed by a celebratory sausage-eating: