German Boys' Clothes: Sudetenland--Religious Garments

Figure 1.--The altar boys and a priest here stand by one of four outdoor altars. They wear a kind of cloak with the large dark collars. Other images show boys wearing serplices with short sleeves. Notice the flowers that the children have brought to decorate the altar, the little flower girl was from Prague. The priest aided by these boys officiated at this altar which was built in Dürchel near Dauba. It is situated in North Bohemia, south of Böhmisch Leipa (Ceska Lipa) and north west of Jungbunzlau (Mlada Boleslav), but it is nearer to Böhmisch Leipa (Ceska Lipa). Dauba has >2000 inhabitants and Dürchel, that lies a bit to the North, about >1000. Of course the population is now Czech.

The Sudeten Germans were largely Catholic as was most of southern Germans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was of course a great honor for a boy to serve as an altar boy. We note that altar boys wore a serplice with a large dark collar detailed in stripes. We have not noted any altar boy outfits quite like this in any other country. These were different than the garments worn by the priests. Usually the altar boys wear vestments very similar to those worn by priests. We are not sure if this was an exclusive Sudeten style or similar to altar boy outfits in German or Czech churches. Other images show boys wearing serplices with short sleeves, more like the priest vestments, but with the same large dark collar seen here.

The photograph here was taken on Fronleichnamsumgang (Corpus Cristi Day). There are actually two words: Fronleichnam and Umgang. It is a typical German habit to create long words out of 2, 3 or more other words, just put them together and it all makes perfect sense when you understand it. Fronleichnamsumgang was the most beautiful celebration of the year in the Sudetenland. There were many celebrations and a big procession. It is the custom in Germany on Corpus Cristi Day to bring flowers that are throw on the ground during processions. Many younger children, often dressed in white, carry baskets of flowers. Pictures are made out of flowers as well. There are four altars, usually outdoors, which are also decorated with flowers. In some catholic regions of Germany and also in Austria, Corpus Cristi Day is called Fronleichnamstag. Tag is day, but Fronleichnam without tag is enough. Umgang means "wandering around" in a religious procession through the streets and allies around the church. It is of course also called a Prozession.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: January 31, 2002
Last updated: February 1, 2002