Pigtown, Germany

We spent the past weekend in my hometown of Hambach, a village near the city of Schweinfurt in northern Bavaria. We sometimes refer to Schweinfurt as pig town, but its literal translation is pig crossing.

As soon as we get off the Autobahn and drive into the countryside, there are rolling hills, vineyards, and wheat fields.


Having grown up on a farm, I have a special appreciation for combines (German: Mähdrescher) in August. I do remember the dust and the dry heat (unlike nowadays), and the itchiness from the chaff and straw. August was also the month my dad knew whether his farming work had paid off for the year or not.

Mainberg Castle (Mainberg being another village outside of Pigtown) has been in the news recently. The castle is in bad condition and the owner lacks the funds for a complete restoration. If approved, the public gets to finance this hefty charge.

Mainberg Castle

Mainberg Castle

I like going to Pigtown, but I have stopped calling it going home many years ago. Both the area and I have changed over the thirty-some years.

The German word Heimat translates to hometown, whereas Zuhause is your current home. Meine alte Heimat ist Schweinfurt, mein Zuhause ist Oberursel.

Feisty Franconia

Franconia is not far away –only two hours east of Frankfurt by car– and planning a visit there neither seems as exotic as Japan nor as far off the beaten path as the Faroe Islands do. But Franconia has a lot to offer.

But there is also something else about it: It is my birthplace. I was born in a small village called Hambach in Lower Franconia.

This song’s introductory line sums it up:

Im schönen Frankenland wo meine Wiege stand. (In beautiful Franconia where my cradle stood)

They sing this at every Weinfest, Bierfest, Pfarrfest, Feuerwehrfest, Kindergartenfest, Hoffest, Junggesellenfest, etc. They are a festive folk.

I left Franconia close to thirty years ago and on my occasional trips back, I realize how different they are from the rest of the Germans. When in casual conversation, there always seems to be a demanding undertone in their speech. When a happy Franconian speaks, his intonation might resemble a melody. The Franconians, being part of Northern Bavaria, are often referred to as the Beute-Bayern (the Bavarian predators made the Franconians their prey).

This area is full of traditions worth telling about.

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