Transplants in a small Swiss village complained clanging cowbells kept them up all night. Locals sided with the cows.

A brown milk cow in a meadow of grass and wildflowers with the Alps in the background.
Residents and farmers in Aarwangen, Switzerland, defended cowbells as part of their traditional culture.jhphotos/Getty Images
  • Two couples who moved to Aarwangen, Switzerland, complained that cowbells kept them up all night.

  • But longtime residents were outraged and started a petition to preserve the cowbells.

  • The residents say the cowbells are an important part of Switzerland's traditional culture.

If cowbells clang constantly in the middle of the night is it unwelcome noise or a cherished cultural tradition?

That was the question raised in the small village of Aarwangen, Switzerland, when newcomers to the town complained that the traditional cowbells were keeping them up all night.

Two separate couples that had recently moved to the area, located between Zurich and Bern, lodged official complaints with the village council about the noise, BBC News reported.

But the sounds are common in rural Switzerland, where traditional farmhouses keep dairy cows on rolling green pastures, with the cowbells dangling from their necks.

Longtime locals of Aarwangen, which has a population of about 4,700, were outraged over the recent transplants' complaints, arguing that the sound of cowbells was part of their traditional Swiss culture, Mayor Niklaus Lundsgaard-Hansen told the BBC.

There are about five or six farmers in the village, and one of them said the complaints were a "personal insult to him and his cows," the mayor said.

Residents quickly circulated a petition to vote on preserving the use of the cowbells.

"As soon as I hear them, I know I'm back home," Andreas Baumann told the BBC, adding that those bothered by them should live somewhere else as they have "too romantic a notion of rural life."

Lundsgaard-Hansen told CBC that while he supports the bells, he does not think it warrants a universal vote and that it should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The original complaint has since been raised to the regional government, and a decision on it is expected in the coming weeks.

As for the couples that lodged the complaints, one had already withdrawn theirs, while the other is planning to leave the village, Lundsgaard-Hansen told Swiss broadcaster SRF.

The BBC reported that other villages in Switzerland are also debating about whether or not the cowbells, previously used by farmers to keep track of their stock, are necessary for modern farming, where the animals often have electric chips or graze in fenced-off areas.

But the outlet said that for many Swiss people, keeping the cowbells is more about preserving a certain way of life.

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