Friday, March 15, 2019

St. Patrick in Germany

Many of you might be celebrating St. Patrick's Day by wearing green on Sunday - an Irish Tradition that is common in the United States. But even in Germany, St. Patrick's Day has become a widely celebrated event. While not all  of us would consider a stout a real beer, we’re happy to join the Irish in their beer-drinking celebrations on the biggest Irish party of the year!

The city of Munich hosts the largest annual St. Patrick's Day parade in continental Europe. Often times, 30,000 people or more show up for the parade at Odeonsplatz, which often includes the mayor. The parade includes bagpipe performances, Irish dances and performers in costume. Approximately 1,464 people in 63 different performance groups will participate in this year’s parade.

Irish people and St. Patrick's Day enthusiasts have been gathering for the Munich parade since 1996. And festivities are not limited to the parade: over the course of two days, there is also an Irish mass, an Irish cultural evening and gatherings involving Irish beer.

"So many Irish people live here in Munich and we Bavarians are always up for a party," Anthropologist Sandra Meinas told the Irish Times. But even further north, Germans celebrate the Irish holiday, with Berlin hosting a smaller parade and festival of its own.

Germany is home to a large Irish community; one estimate from 2013 claims there are around 11,000 Irish citizens who have declared German residency. So whether you are in the US or Germany this weekend, we're sure you will encounter more green than usual!

Nicole Glass, Editor, The Week in Germany




Sunday, March 3, 2019

Fasching and Fastnach

Germany is celebrating its so-called Fünfte Jahreszeit ("Fifth Season"), which is a reference to Carnival! The Fifth Season officially began on November 11 at 11:11 a.m., but in actuality, Carnival's events take place during one week in February with highlights including Fat Thursday and Rose Monday.

On February 28, Germans celebrated Weiberfastnacht (Fat Thursday), which marks the last Thursday before Lent. In the Rhineland - which is where Carnival is celebrated most intensely – work often ends before noon and people wear costumes out on the streets and in local bars.

But men who wear ties on Weiberfastnacht need to be prepared: one of Germany's unique Carnival traditions is that women cut off men's ties with scissors on Fat Thursday, leaving them with nothing but a stump. After all, Weiberfastnactht means "women's carnival night", and this ritual allows them to symbolically strip men of their statuses. Even at the German Embassy in Washington, some of our colleagues had to say goodbye to their ties on Thursday. Be sure to check out the video in TWIG to see what happened!

But the biggest celebration of Carnival is still to come next week on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) - a day marked with large parades and street parties. An estimated 1.5 million people watch the Rosenmontag parade in Cologne each year. Although Rose Monday celebrations take place in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium, the region with the heaviest celebrations is the Rhineland, particularly in the major cities along the Rhine. The southern part of the Rhineland, however, has its own unique tradition called "Fastnacht", which comes with its own unique customs. Be sure to read about the history of Carnival in this week's edition of TWIG!

Nicole Glass, Editor, The Week in Germany


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