Switzerland may seem like the picture of perfect - serene, picturesque, clean, neutral, but there are some elements of Swiss culture that may surprise you. This particular tradition is specific to the Valais region, where I live. This unexpected tradition is cow fighting, otherwise known as "Le Combat de Reines", or the fight of the queens…
Every spring the cows belonging to the Hérens race instictually instigate a fight with their female counterparts to determine the "Queen" of the troop and who will lead them up the mountain to pasture. This practice happens spontaneously between the cows. One female will turn towards another, snort, and paw the ground to let her know she wants to fight. The opponent will either return the gesture or just walk away. If she accepts, they lock horns and continue to push each other with all their strength until one backs down and turns away. It is a bloodless and harmless fight .
In addition to these spontaneous combats, it has also become an organized spectator’s sport in the Valais . You can attend numerous fights throughout the spring and even place bets on your favorite.
This is an extremely unique event that the Valaisans are quite proud of and is growing in popularity in the realm of Swiss tourism. So next time you’re in the Valais and looking for something to do, check with your local tourist office to try to catch a "combat". You’ll get a real taste of the Valaisan spirit – anything but serene and neutral !
Get your very own hand carved fighting cow here!