In 1602, Geneva was coveted by the Savoyards. Chales-Emmanuel I intended to make Geneva his capital north of the Alps.
On the night of 11-12th December 1602, one of the darkest nights of the year, a troop of 2000 soldiers launched a surprise attack. Arriving in Painpalais, the mercenaries climbed the walls surrounding the city. That is why the commemoration is referred to as “l’Escalade” (which means “the climb” in French).
The alarm was sounded at 4:30 a.m. by a watchman firing his harquebus. La Clémence, the bell of Saint Peter’s Cathedral, rang the alarm supported by all the bells in the monuments.
Armed with nothing more than courage and halberds, the citizens of Geneva, men and women alike, ran out of their houses to defend the city alongside the bourgeois militia and the city’s soldiers. They fought off the enemies using any means to hand.
A number of stories recall the courage of La Mère Royaume, who scalded one Savoyard with her pot of soup. Since 1881, chocolate cauldrons decorated with the coat of arms of Geneva have been sold and eaten at this time every year in honour of the bravery.
The enemies withdrew empty-handed, leaving 54 casualties behind.
To celebrate this tradition, each year, the youngest and oldest person in each houselhold smash a chocolate ‘Marmite’ and recite the following sentence:
“Ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République”
*Click on the link above to see a video of Cherry and Amaliya smashing the “Martmite”.