The best known German/Austrian ethnic event is the annual Oktoberfes in Germany, curiously held in September. There are also Maifests and other German theme events. Very famous (especially for several town along the Rhein river is carnival in March. Children love to masquerade with fancy dresses. These events commonly include games, booths, authentic German food, dance, and music. There are many activities associated with a typical Octoberfest. Brass bands and of course oompah music are very popular. German folk dancing is another popular event. In American Oktoberfests, other ethnic dance groups may be invited to participate. Dancing can include, in addition to polkas and waltzes, the German quadrille style "Square Dancing" (Bunten) brought over from the Lüneburger Heide area of northern Germany in the 1840s and 1850s. Schuhplattler is Bavarian (German) and Tirol (Austria) folk dancing performed in folk costumes (tracht). It includes traditional Schuhplattler and other folk dances. Schuhplattler are seen as a typical dance in Alpine area, both German and Austrian, but in fact it was really only native to some regions. Viehscheid is a traditional folkloric fesival in southern Germany, especially the montaneous Allgäu region. Many of the participants dress in folk costumes, the boys in Lederhosen and the girls in Dirndls. The festivals occurs in the towns where a variety of tents and booths are set up, including like Octoberfest--beer tents.
Erntedankfest is celebrated during September, especially in rural areas. This is similar to Thanksgiving in America. Therecare special services in the churches decorated with fruits and corn, a very traditional event.
Another important festival is „Fastnacht“/“Fasnet“ (alemanic Southwest of Germany and Switzerland)/“Fasching“ (Bavaria and Austria)/“Karneval“ (Rhine river and northern Germany). This is a very old religious festival in catholic regions, villages/towns. I think about 8 weeks before Eastern starting the period of the year in which people should not eat meal. In all reformed/protestantic areas, this festival is not common. Famous centres of the (traditional, alemanic) Fastnacht are Rottweil, Basel, Säckingen and others with famous parades by disguised persons with (very old, 250 years and more) wooden, cutted and painted masks – the origin goes back before christianisation!. Fasching is in Bavaria and Austria with Munich the famous centre (evening dancing for adults in masks). Karneval with very famous parades (e.g.) and shows („Kappensitzung“, „Fremdensitzung“ etc, some now in national TV) are in Mainz and Cologne, to mention some centres. All these festivals (except in some Swiss regions) are always at a Tuesday, the day before is „Rosenmontag“, the day after is „Aschermittwoch“; in the alemanic Fastnacht, the socalled „Weiberfastnacht“ (womens‘ Fastnacht, men get their ties cutted)) on Thursday before the Fastnacht, there highly important. During Fastnacht Germany children commonly play in costumes, e.g, dwarfs, ladies in long cloths, or like the American cowboys or Indians, and „heroes“ are very popular – no relation to the event! The costumes are similar to what the American children have at Halloween; adults are going around only in the centres with sometimes very fantastic clothes like witches in the Fastnacht, as princes in Fasching and Karneval; in Karneval adult people sometimes wear also erotic clothings. The terms „Fastnacht“ and „Fasching“ are derived from „fasten“ (to abstain from food), „Karneval“ cames from Latin „carne vale“, the same meaning.
One very wideky observed annual festival is Kirchweih. Different names are used, including „Kirmes“, „Kerb“, „Kerwe“ or whatever regional term is used in the dialect. These festivals involve the consecration of the church/parish fair, in all villages and towns, small ones and large ones. I don`t know why most of these festivals are in June/July/August.
There are also Maifests and other German theme events. Very famous (especially for several town along the Rhein river) is carnival in March. Children love to masquerade with fancy dresses. These events commonly include games, booths, authentic German food, dance, and music. This is a popular festival in many villages. The main event is erecting of the decorated „Maibaum“ at the main place (May pole) and in the evening the „Tanz in den Mai“ (folks dancing around the Maibaum). The union event, first of May, labour day as in the states in September, is in Germany a legal holiday since the NAZI era – not may people know this, but see, the NSDAP, the party of the Nazis, is „Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei“, you find the terms „... sozialistisch ...“ and „... Arbeiter ...“ (worker) in the name - and has taken over the old tradition of the traditional May festivals.
The best known German/Austrian ethnic event is the annual Oktoberfest in Germany, curiously held in September. „Oktoberfest“ in Munich is a rather new festival! There are many activities associated with a typical Octoberfest. Brass bands and of course oompah music are very popular. German folk dancing is another popular event. In American Oktoberfests, other ethnic dance groups may be invited to participate. Dancing can include, in addition to polkas and waltzes, the german quadrille style "Square Dancing" (Bunten) brought over from the Lüneburger Heide area of northern Germany in the 1840s and 1850s. Schuhplattler is Bavarian (German) and Tirol (Austria) folk dancing performed in folk costumes (tracht). It includes traditional Schuhplattler and other folk dances. Schuhplattler are seen as a typical dance in Alpine area, both German and Austrian, but in fact it was really only native to some regions. German food is always a big attraction. Popular German dishes include: wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, apple strdel, Spanferkel chicken, Rollbratenand and many other dishes. Some events stress crafts demonstrating the folkways and skills of
German immigrants. Guests find juried artisans, often in period attire
using the same primitive tools as immigrant artisans. Watch broom making, rail splitting, clothes washing, scherenschnitte, kloppolei and German fractur--just a few of the seventy early skills demonstrated. Mule powered sorghum mill, timber sawing and splitting shingles is also a rarely seen event. One event offers a tour of an 1820 log home.
Many towns and cities celebratef the date that charters were granted by the Emperor or other authorities. Towns about 1000 AD began receiving the right to hold markets. Towns about 1200 AD began obtaining special regulations (e.g., the right to have a wall around the town and judicial rights in cases between their citizens, may be up to the right of sentence to death – typically the „Galgen“ (gallows) just outside the town wall). Towns given even further rights were called „freie Reichsstädte“ (like Frankfurt, Nuremburg, Augsburg, Ulm and much more, even smaller ones) with more rights, e.g., right of coinage). Without a special anniversary there may be a „Stadtfest“ (town festival) or Burgfest/Schloßfest (castle festival)
Viehscheid is a traditional folkloric fesival in southern Germany, especially the montaneous Allgäu region. Similar festivals are held in neighboring Switzerland and Austria. Another term is „Almabtrieb“. Many of the participants dress in folk costumes, the boys in Lederhosen and the girls in Dirndls. The festivals occurs in the towns where a variety of tents and booths are set up, including like Octoberfest--beer tents. The participants gather around the tens and look toward the mountains. Finally the cows appear on the road ot track guided by hearders who have wooden staffs. The cows are brought from the surronding hills to the villages in the vallies. The cows have bells which can be heard clanging away a sthe cows walk down the road. Viehschied is driving the cows down from the mountains. At one festival over a 1,000 head of cattle ate brought down from the mountain pastures. The actual words in German mean separting the cows. The cows mingle freely in the mountain pasture. Ony when they are brought down to the villages do their owners separate them. The hearders decorated the cattle with greens, ribbons, and wildflowers. The festivals are held in Autumn. As the weathr begins to cool, farmers bring their cattle down from the Alpine mountain pastures.
There are much many more festivals in Germant besides Oktoberfest and Maifest that foreigners are familiar with. All German villages and towns have an annual anniversary festival. These vary widely from village to village. There are several types of these festivals that are especially common. The „Bürgerwehr“ (voluntary armed group for protecting the village against rubbers) have been celebrated since about 1750. The „Schützenverein“ (similar, now for sport shooting) have been celebrated since about 1800. „Turn- und Sportverein“ (sports club) have held celebrations since 1850. An example here is the „Turnvater Jahn“ mentioned on an HBC page about German sport activities. „Freiwillige Feuerwehr“ (voluntary fire brigade) have celebrated their founding since about 1880. HBC has a page on these voluntary fire brigades. „Gesangsverein“/“Liederkranz“/“Oratorienverein“ (group of amateur singers) have held festivals since before 1900. Villages also often sponsor an annual „Kinderfest“ with a children parade and carousel, magician, Punch and Judy show etc. Often, these festivals, especially if there is no tradition behind it, are also called „Volksfest“. In villages with a wine-growing tradition there is a „Winzerfest“ (drinking wine instead of beer!). A special occassion for (traditional) festivals is to banish winter, in the Alpes regions, an alemannic event. Probably the most famous one is the burning of the „Böög in Zurich, Switzerland (please note, this is a reformed town, they have no „Fastnacht“!) in March/April; there is also a very traditional parade, children in rather old clothing, inherited over generations
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