The Schützenfest: Another German Tradition turned Festival

It’s June.  Ok, so may be that’s obvious, but what isn’t obvious if you haven’t lived in Germany for a while is that June kicks off the annual Schützenfest in many of our local villages.

So you’re driving from one tiny village to another and all of the sudden you’re stuck because the one tiny road that you need to take is full of men in suits with feathered felt hats playing instruments or marching and carrying banners.  There will be a king and queen in appropriate attire and some may carry long rifles.

It’s interesting, strange at first, and seems very old world.  But this is Germany and these old traditions are just a few of the things that make living here special.

The Schützenfest is a small festival held in most local German villages.  It’s a celebration of sorts revolving around the Schützenbrödershaft, or the local men’s shooting club that is one of those “highly recommended” clubs to belong to.  Most the men in town will belong and once a year, they’ll gather together, rifles aimed high, and have a competition to see who is the best marksmen in town.

The best (and one most financially capable to fund a party or two) will be crowned king and his wife will be queen.  The king will wear a suit and hang a metal chain adornment around his neck.  His wife will be wearing a long full gown and carrying flowers.  Their house will be decorated with flowers and banners and all sorts of streamers to mark them as royalty and they will appear at all the events throughout the summer.

The village may take this time to put on a local concert, usually in the church fellowship hall across the street and generous amounts of beer will be served.  The parties will be all-ages, of course.

If your village has festival grounds or an old parking lot or field, this is a great time to have a small carnival for the younger kids.  Really, you never know what could turn up.

And if you hear drums early, just know a parade is coming.  There will be several over the summer marking the opening and closing of the season.

There will be a ball – a Königsball – and people will dress nicely.

Most of the houses in town display flags all weekend. Most all of them have just two horizontal stripes – each in a different color. Most are white with either red or blue, but there are green and orange flags too.

Police will lead and follow the parade the the routes aren’t usually very long, so if you happen to get stuck behind on while driving through a village, just roll down your windows, listen to the music and enjoy, because it really won’t last long and when you’re back home someday, you may actually miss it.  Or it may be oddly familiar… like the theme song to Hogan’s Heroes.  (At least that was the popular tune during my last festival.)

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: