The Baitchai didn’t keep me up all night.
I heard them begin at 10 p.m. sharp. I went to bed soon after. I wasn’t woken up until at around 5:30 a.m. as they walked down our street.
I have to clear up the fact that even if the word Baitchai means the sound of a cracked bell or broken dishes they sound more like sharp flutes and drums.
It is custom to put bottles (I am assuming of alcohol) and envelopes (of monetary donations) into your mailbox as an offering to the Baitchai. I heard someone opening and shutting each of the 12 mailboxes on the landing floor of our building.
I have to explain that the mailboxes in our building have fairly large metal doors in which letters are locked by key and there is a large space inside the mailbox for packages which could be used for Baitchai offerings. So, a Baitchai or anyone else can “open” your mailbox having access to the space inside but not get to the letters which are locked in the door. I hope that makes sense.
In between some of the mailboxes being opened I heard a loud toot from some kind of flute. I don’t know if the toot is sounded out in gratitude of an offering being found or in protest of nothing being left.
I couldn’t resist climbing out of my warm bed to look out the window.
I saw about 15 people all dressed in long white shirts and hats walking behind someone carrying a lantern on a pole. They were hollering, clanking, tooting, banging and basically having a great time. I heard a Baitchai cry out, “Putain (*see bottom of post)!” as I started to open the window so just in case it was because they saw me I shut it back.
All the racket stopped at promptly 6 a.m.
Coincidentally, the time of absolute silence out of respect for your neighbors beauty sleep (and boy do some of mine need it) if you live in an apartment in Switzerland is between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (update: Vilay told me after he came home from work that he heard them until 12:00 in the afternoon!)
Therefore, I am wondering if the point of the Baitchai isn’t chasing away evil spirits as much as being rebels.
*Putain means “prostitute or whore”. However, I would say it is used more like “oh, fuck!” in English.