(Bild: Keystone/Gaetan Bally)
(Bild: Keystone/Gaetan Bally)
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Local News Summary of January, 7th

  • Car overturns due to snow
  • Novartis invests in new cardio-vascular medicine
  • A Basler gave Switzerland the three kings cake

Car overturns due to snow


A young driver was injured in an accident in Reigoldswil (BL) on Thursday when her car skidded on snow and overturned. According to current investigations by Baselland police, the 21-year-old was driving from Reigoldswil to Ziefen on Ziefenstrasse at around 12.30pm when the crash happened. Her car began to skid on the slightly snow-covered road as she took a left bend in the road. As she attempted to avoid a vehicle coming from the other direction, the car collided with a verge, overturned completely and landed on its wheels. The driver was slightly injured and taken to a hospital by Liestal paramedics for treatment. The car had to be towed away by a towing service.


Novartis invests in new cardio-vascular medicine


The Basel pharmaceutical company Novartis has signed a billion-dollar agreement with the US pharma company Ionis to develop and market two cardio-vascular medicines. Novartis will pay 225 million US Dollars at first, Ionis announced on Friday.

If Novartis takes on the license for both medicines and if they successfully find their way onto the market, the deal could be worth at least one billion US Dollars.  The Ionis subsidiary Akcea is developing two therapeutic medicines to treat cardio-vascular diseases. They are aimed at patients with a higher risk of the after-effects of arteriosclerosis such as a heart attack or a stroke.

Novartis has agreed to a licensing fee of 150 million US Dollars for each of the two medicines. This may rise up to 1.13 billion Dollars in milestone fees. The authorities still have to give the green light to the deal.


A Basler gave Switzerland the three kings cake

 King for a day: It is that time again. Breakfast on 6 January may well be the most cheerful of the year, when the three kings cake is on the family table and the king or queen of the day is chosen. But if it was not for bread historian Max Währen, this festivity would not exist today: he brought this tradition back to life in 1953.

On one day of the year, everyone is happy if they bite into something hard in their morning bread and thus becomes king or queen for a day. It would be different if we still lived in 17th-century Alsace. Then, it was costly to become king: the custom of three kings cake was only available in guild houses. Members of the guild ate a longish cake, in which a pea and a bean were hidden. Whoever found the bean became king. But instead of getting their wishes granted, the newly crowned king had to pay the entire bill - a costly bean. It was more rewarding to find the pea: that way, one was elected marshal of the king, and everyone cheered.

Somewhere between the 17th and the first half of the 20th century, this not very well-known custom of three kings cake was totally forgotten. Nobody knows when exactly within these 400 years. “It is certain that the custom had gone out of existence in Switzerland prior to the Second World War,” Dominik Wunderlin, acting manager of Basel’s Museum of Culture states.


A Basel insurance man rediscovers it

We can thank Max Währen for making sure that these days, we may become king or queen nonetheless. The Basler worked in Bern as an insurance officer and, in his spare time, was a bread historian. A passionate scientist, he expressed his wishes for a revival of the custom in a scientific paper about the three kings cake, which was published in 1947. He proved that, as early as 1390, there had been a similar cake tradition in the area of Switzerland.

A celebration day orchestrated by bakers

The revival began on 6 January 1953. Preparations for this had been made since autumn 1952. Bakers were informed and even instructed to keep their bakery windows lit until 9pm during the night before 6 January to make passers-by feel a craving. In a large-scale media conference, the bakery and confectionary association announced that the ancient custom was making a comeback.

In the first year, around 50,000 three kings cakes were sold across Switzerland. When the major distributors Migros and Coop jumped on the bandwagon, sales ballooned. Today, around 1.5 million three kings cakes are sold per year.

Basel’s bakers also look forward to Epiphany (6 January) and are innovative about it. For instance, the confectionary Schiesser sells the classic three kings cake, but with a porcelain Christmas figure inside instead of a plastic figurine. With a bit of luck, the entire nativity scene can be collected. But this takes years, and masses of cake. Good luck!