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Pfingstfest in Huechel

GERMANY | Tuesday, 21 June 2011 | Views [1133]

'Huechel was a crazy party.'  Yes.  Yes it was.

But, you ask, what is Pfingstfest?  Well, I participated, and I still don't really know.  I have Googled, and I still don't really know.  One day, I will research this, and write some kind of informative article, but for now I'll just tell you how I experienced it.  I may also add that these traditions are particular to this part of Germany.  So, Germans who had come from other areas were also experiencing it for the first time (so I didn't feel like such an outsider!!).

Nadja always celebrates Pfingstfest in Huechel, a small town near her small town (see map below).  In this town, there's a wooden cabin, which her sister and some friends built when they were about 16.  

At Pfingstfest (which has something to do with the Holy Ghost, and seems to be Pentecost in English), each small town has a little tree, which they hoist up on a tall stick at their kind of centre of celebrations.  And then they hang around and drink beer.  A lot of beer.  For, like, 3 days staight.  And, if you try Nadja's suggestion of beer mixed with Coke, some people will sneer at you.  Then again, they will also good-naturedly mock you if you don't drink fast enough, so you can't really win.  Who tries to out-drink Germans when it comes to beer, anyway?

On the subject of beer, the most controversial question you can ask a German guy is apparently what the best beer in Germany is.  Luckily, I was only talking to one guy when I asked this as, otherwise, it could have become a very heated conversation, I think.

On one afternoon, they do a tour of the village, singing a song at people's doors, and collecting eggs, money, and alcohol in return.  Some people are so used to the tradition that they have a semi-portable bar and bring out shots for everyone.  We like these people.  Those who have just moved to the area are often slightly afraid when a singing mob comes to their door, and have to have the tradition explained.  Next year, they'll be ready with their carton of eggs too!

Sometimes, it rains during this journey, at which stage it is really, really great to be Nadja's friend, as she is organised and takes an umbrella.

The eggs are taken back to the 'centre of celebrations' along with the alcohol which has survived the voyage.  Read: not much.

At ours (look at me, taking ownership of it), there was a bonfire burning, with a few couches around.  The kegs were in the log cabin.  The tractor was parked by the entrance.  There was a little tent to protect us if it rained.  We were set.  

People also slept the night there (keen, I know).  Nadja's boyfriend explained to me that, technically, groups from another town can steal the tree if no-one is around to protect it.  However, few are sober enough to drive, let alone get a tree down from a pole.  So you're generally safe.  But also, the party generally rocks.  So people don't really want to leave.

On the Sunday, the people of the village come... to eat the omelettes made with the eggs which they gave.  At our place, there were also some salads, some sausages (it is Germany, after all), etc.

People also started playing some kind of wood-throwing-target-hitting game, which reminded me of a cross between bowling and petanque.

On the last day, there are competitions between all of the different villages.  I missed this, as I was flying off to Italy, but Nadja told me about some of the games.  The only one I remember (because it was so funny) was that people had to spin around a lot, and then go through an obstacle course without falling over.  Spinning makes it hard, but you should really take into consideration that these are people who have been drinking all weekend!!  The winning village then choses what the games will be the following year.

So, a few other random things which happened in my experience of Pfingstfest:

  1. I was told that my hair looked like a sheep.
  2. One young man tried desperately to convince me that he was not gay.  I had never shown any sign of thinking he was, but apparently I needed convincing.
  3. I was trapped in conversation with a drunk teenager who wanted to practice his English, so that he could ask for a potato if he needed to...
  4. I had the merits of Landrovers explained to me.  'They're like, every good thing you've done in your life.'
  5. I met some 'Broworkers' from Berlin, and they claimed that their friend was the World's Drunkest Man.
  6. Everything was AWESOME.
  7. One guy got really excited when I said I was from Napier, and was like 'Napier has its own port!'  Turns out he works for a removal company.
  8. The muffins that Nadja and I made received 2 thumbs up.  We are awesome.

Tags: german celebration, germany, huechel, pfingster, pfingstfest

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