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Viewpoints . . . A look back at the rites of spring

Let’s take time as we sit under a tree this summer with a good beer by Martin Ederer
and think about how emigration and immigration has transformed
every ethnic community. Now that the Buffalo area has
begun its characteristic three
We Germans are well-Americanized, and yet our Germanness still days of spring before the lurch into
matters. Still some of us may think – at least on the German side of full summer, let’s consider some
things – that we have assimilated into poor copies of the German rites of spring in the German-
originals. Any trip to Germany, Austria or German Switzerland quick- speaking world.
ly shows us that.
One thing fairly obvious in
Recent German immigrants will also realize that there is a world some parts of Germany and Aus-
of difference between German and German-American. Emigration has tria is that spring often comes ear-
changed the Volksdeutsche who left Europe, but Germany and Austria lier than in our well-refrigerated
have also changed, and misunderstandings can abound from all sides. zones downwind of the Great
Lakes. That generalization, is, of
The reality, though, is that we can all learn so much from one course, much dependent on alti-
another. The cultural clock may have stopped for older waves of tude. It also admits of very change-
immigrants, but that may well have preserved folkways and traditions able temperatures and weather
in a new homeland that Germans back home felt no need to do. conditions, an all-too-frequent re-
ality in north-central Europe.
In short, immigrant groups and the people of the country of origin
develop different histories, all valid and all instructive. Consider how Although a moveable feast,
different vocabularies developed in East and West Germany over only Easter begins the transition into
50 years. Think of what a glimpse into the German past the Amish can spring, and – at least in the more
give “modern” Germans. We can all learn a lot. Catholic areas – a whole progres-
sion of feasts, some formal enough
February-March Subscribe to mean school and bank holidays.
April-May Christi Himmelfahrt, the feast of
June-July to the the Ascension, comes 40 days af-
ter Easter. Ten days later is Pfing-
Oktoberfest Guide Today sten, the Feast of Pentecost
August-September Sunday. This also means the
October-November Pfingstferien, when many crowd
December-January the roads as they head for some
vacation time, a rather secular ap-
plication of a traditional religious May Day: villagers near Munich lift a very tall maypole into place.
feast. Since all of these feasts are
Subscribe today to related to Easter, they, like Easter, arms of guilds or businesses or Austria, Mamertus is neglected as
$16 for 6 issues are moveable. government offices that contribut- an Eisheiliger, and the three re-
ed to its construction and mainte- maining men are known as the
Name______________________________________ May 1 is also a reason for cele- nance. The Maibaum is raised with Eismänner. Sophia is added as Ka-
Address____________________________________ bration – often for some pretty brute strength although now a lte Sophie, and her feast is the last.
City/State/Zip______________________________ diametrically opposed reasons. crane usually provides a safety ca-
Phone______________________________________ Mayday has a special significance ble as a precaution to prevent the The basic rule is that nasty
for Socialists, which is why the pole from falling as it is raised. wintry recoils and frosts are still
Make Check payable to Buffalo Standard Printing and Catholic Church responded by possible until after the feast of So-
Mail to 3620 Harlem Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14215 making it a day for church feasts. Once the pole is up, the drink- phia on May 15, and no planting
ing and dancing begin (or contin- should happen until afterwards. By
Since 1970 the Buffalo Standard In the United States, May 1 is ue). That, however, is only the Buffalo standards, that date is still
Printing Booster Club has raised funds the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. final act. There is a whole set of dangerously early (consider that
to support our family of publications. In Bavaria, it is the Feast of Maria complicated traditions of one town we use much later Memorial Day),
Patrona Bavariae: Mary, Patron- trying to steal the neighboring and that is equally true in central
These funds have been used to off-set some of the ess of Bavaria. town’s Maibaum in the days be- Europe.
publication costs, increases in postage, and affords fore May 1, and the stakes are
the ability to secure the best writers in Western New The tradition that seems much high. The losing town has to pay a So are the saints wrong? The
York. The German Citizen is published to serve the older than either of these feasts, ransom for their pole to the win- farmers? As it turns out, the dates
German-Americans of Upstate New York. Donors to however, is that of the Maibaum, ning town, often with prodigious shifted to earlier when calendars
the Press Fund will be thanked in the last issue of the or maypole. Oldest mentions date quantities of beer and food. changed from the Julian to the
year, unless otherwise instructed by the donor. to the 1200s, although the tradi- Gregorian in (depending on local
tions are undoubtedly older. As Even still, there are plenty of rulers) 1582. The astronomical and
MAIL TO: Buffalo Standard Printing Press Fund always, there are numerous re- rules. The pole can’t be stolen be- political realities may have gone
3620 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, NY 14215 gional variations. fore it is cut from the forest – that’s their own ways, but tradition is
I want to make sure the German Citizen continues its service a criminal offense. It also can’t be tradition and the Eisheilige still
Generally, though, a Maibaum stolen after it has been raised. If a serve as a warning to overeager
To the German-American Community. is erected in village square, and guard catches the thieves during a gardeners.
Enclosed is my contribution of $ _____ decorated with stylized coats of “legal’ theft time, they have to
Name:__________________________________________ give up their mission. In the Harz Finally there are the feasts of
Address_________________________________________ Published by Mountains, May 1 is preceded by Dreifaltigkeitssontag, Fronleich-
City, State, Zip___________________________________ Buffalo Standard Printing Walpurgisnacht, the night when nam, and Herz Jesu: Trinity Sun-
the witches become active. In Ba- day, the Feast of Corpus Christi
Please { } Include 3620 Harlem Rd. varia, Freinacht is a night of complete with processions (Only
{ }do not include my name in your list of contributors. Cheektowaga, NY 14215 pranks. the Polish seem to still do proces-
sions in our part of the world), and
2 • • June - July 2018 716-831-8013 Lest anyone get too optimistic the Feast of Sacred Heart. In the
mail@thegermancitizen.com about spring, there are the peasant Alpine Tirol regions of Austria
rules – the Bauernregeln – about and Northern Italy, a special devo-
For Advertising Sales call: planting too soon. These rules are tion to the Sacred Heart developed
Michelle Kisluk or framed by a series of five saints’ as they were taking a desperate
Steve Kroczynski feasts, all of these figures together stand against Napoleon’s armies.
known as the Eisheilige: Mamer- The feast is commemorated with
Have a question, comment, tus, Pancras, Servatius, Bonifatius cannon-fire and outdoor proces-
or concern about the Upstate and Sophia. In the south and in sions. A happy spring to all!
New York German communi-
ty? Contact us at mail @the
germancitizen.com
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