This nanny has been very sad for the past few days. I was diagnosed with tonsillitis (we think) yesterday – why here, why now?! It’s very frustrating, all I want to do is help out with the kids and play with them and explore! But I can’t do that because 1. There is no way I’m spreading this horrid virus, no one deserves to be in this much pain! 2. I might just collapse while playing with them, my energy levels are below 0, my mind says yes but the body says nay – and mind over matter doesn’t seem to work in this situation! But I’m slowly getting better – in fact, I could walk up the stairs today without feeling like I had just run a 20km marathon! And I can swallow without wondering if there are hidden needles in my food or water. I’m on the road to recovery, I just need 100 more naps and another box of panadol. But in the meantime, let me tell you about some interesting traditions in this little region of Bavaria, many of them being quite amusing!
First there is May-tree (Maibaum) which is part of the spring festivities. The May-trees’ were pointed out on my day of arrival. As we drove through the small villages there were very tall poles standing in the centre of each town, the poles uniquely decorated with ribbons and wreaths and various crafts. From my understanding, this tradition started back in the 13th century and symbolised “all things grow and bear fruit” but now symbolises the wealth of a community. The most thrilling part of this traditions is on the 1st of May when the pole is put up, neighbouring villages are allowed to steal the pole and hold it for ransom in exchange for mass amounts of beer and food. Therefore people actually stand guard of this pole to minimise the possibility of it getting stolen – how funny! And these poles aren’t small – it would take about 15 men to successfully get it down and then a truck to tow it away! The craziest story is in 2004 when some thieves got a helicopter to steal a 20m long pole on a mountain! The things people do for some beer and food haha 😀
Next is the “Wolfauslassen” tradition, translated to “Wolf elimination” – this is an interesting one! So every spring to Autumn shepherds use to take the cattle out into pastures so they could eat fresh grass and be outside after enduring the cold winter. However, where there are pastures there are generally woods and where there are woods there are bears and wolves prowling about. Hence the shepherd was needed (as there were no fences during this time either). So in order to scare away these predators, the shepherds hung bells around the cows’ necks so the noise would disturb the creatures in the woods, and it was also useful for the shepherds to find any cows that might have wandered off. By the end of the few months, the shepherds would bring back the cows, take off the bells and strap them to themselves, then go to the farmer to demand his wages. Somehow and somewhere along the line this turned into a tradition that sort of reminds me of trick or treating. Young guys would strap cow bells to themselves and go from door to door and collect money. Over time the competition increased and the cow bell would get bigger and bigger – up to 50kg! It would be strapped to a belt and put on the “Shepheard” that would be followed by his pack of “wolves” and they would march from house to house. The shepherd would raise his staff for the chorus to be quiet then he would say a “Hymn” to the landlord, who would then give the shepherd some money. Here’s an example of what the tradition has become now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKgizO4yD6A How I know this tradition you ask? Well the landlord of my host family has one of these giant bells – so of course I’m going to ask what the story behind it is! It cracks me up – so random! 😀
Food: Hmmm Bavarian food! So far I have had homemade Knödel which is a bready milk flavoured mixture either steamed or boiled. It’s very nice with a tomato vegetable mix. I have the recipe so I’m keen to try it out back home! Another traditional meal is the Weißwurst (white sausage) with a pretzel – speaking of Pretzels – my goodness Germany has got it right. I’m not talking about those tiny little biscuits with salt sprinkled on top. No, I’m taking a big fat piece of dough, twisted and cooked to perfection, served with butter or just about anything you want! Anywho – I haven’t had the sausages yet but about to real soon – I have no doubt it will be amazing!
Well there’s some interesting German traditions to keep you thinking for the time being, I hope you find them as fascinating as I do 😀