German Thanksgiving Parade

In Germany, Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving) is celebrated on the first Sunday in October. It is only a religious holiday and while growing up in a catholic village, it meant going to church, just like every Sunday.

Besides being a regular Sunday in church, on Erntedankfest though, the church gets decorated with the year’s harvest of vegetables.

Protestants however, celebrate Thanksgiving in style. The neighboring villages of Sennfeld and Gochsheim (near Schweinfurt) are both mainly protestant. Both have a Erntedanksfest Umzug (Thanksgiving Parade) with a big fest afterwards. The most popular food items on the list are Zwiebelsplootz and Federweißer.

Zwiefelsplootz and Federweisser

Here are some pictures taken in Sennfeld (Lower Franconia) on their Thanksgiving Day parade.

Thanksgiving Parade, German style

Men in feathered hats

Some little German helpers

Advert for renewable energy

Thanksgiving Parade participants

Thanksgiving Parade

bountiful harvest

It was a rather short parade, but worth attending. Sadly enough, the number of participants keeps shrinking as interest in traditions is slowly fading.

Easter Traditions in Germany

During our weekend visit to my old hometown village on this Easter weekend, we encountered the Rappler group again.

The Rappler are a group of young Catholics, who make a lot of noise by turning the handles on their wooden Rappelkasten, while walking though the village at all times of the day.

This little village in Franconia even posted this reminder at its entrance:

"Achtung Rappler" posted in Rieden

The last time I heard them this morning was at 4:22. I glanced at the clock and figured they must have met at 4:15 at the nearby church to start their procession through the village.

This photo were taken yesterday evening as they came through Main Street once again.

Rappelkasten band in Hambach/Franconia

Nowadays, girls can join these church-organized groups as well.

Easter in a Franconian village

 On our way to Schweinfurt, by taking the country road, we passed through some lovely little villages in Lower Franconia (Northern Bavaria).

Most villages had put a lot of effort into decorating in the traditional Easter fashion.

Easter decoration in Obersfeld

village of Obersfeld

Easter decoration in Schwebenried

village of Schwebenried

Among the tradition of decorating local spots, there is also the church custom of sending kids and teens out for Rappeln. This entails the churning of a handle attached to a wooden ratch box, which in turn creates a loud and crackling sound. This starts on Green Thursday when a group of children walks through the village letting out these crackling sounds, while singing, holding up traffic, and getting the villagers’ attention to remind them of silent prayer time.

We half expected to get awoken again on Saturday morning at 6 by this ruction, but it did not happen this year. They first came through Hambach main street later in the morning about 10.

Hammicher Rappler

Part of the group ratching their way through the village.

When I was a teen, girls were not permitted to join this activity. Nowadays – even in Bavaria, where traditions are held onto steadfast – girls are able to participate in most church-related activities, such as becoming altar girls, one of the three Wise Kings on Jan 6th (Public holiday in Bavaria), etc.

You can learn more about Franconia’s last ratch maker in German. (View pictures for more ratch box details).

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German about Easter listen to the podcast.

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