Celebrating Mariä Himmelfahrt Day in Oberammergau, Germany

As the time drew closer to nine thirty in the morning, the stream of villagers dressed in traditional German folk costume passing by our window in Oberammergau, Germany grew. Ladies in elaborate Dirndls and men in Lederhosen pedaled by on their bikes. Some navigated their bikes’ handlebars with one hand, with elaborate wildflower bouquets in the other.

Curious as to why the locals were dressed in Trachten, I headed to the nearby St. Peter & Paul Church and Cemetery, from which the sounds of a choir and small orchestra streamed out. Some villagers placed bouquets on the graves of family members buried in the church cemetery. They had come to the church to celebrate Mariä Himmelfahrt Day, or the Feast of the Assumption, a Catholic holiday that is also celebrated publicly in some German states every August the 15th. Many government offices and businesses are closed.

Continue reading “Celebrating Mariä Himmelfahrt Day in Oberammergau, Germany”

Dizzied by a Dazzling Array of Dirndls in Bavaria

DSC_0814

Whenever I see Bavarians dressed in traditional German attire, I can’t help but recall a playful prank that my former American colleagues routinely played on friends and family who would come to visit them in Germany. The husband and wife would get laced up in their finest Trachten-wear (German traditional dress consisting of men’s Lederhosen (leather pants) and a St. Pauli Girl-esque Dirndl (dress)) and pick up their guests at the Frankfurt Airport in costume. Before their meeting, they explained to their friends that they would be dressed in such a manner so they could better blend in with the locals, and not perpetuate the ‘ugly American’ stereotype.

 
 

Anyone who’s been to Germany would know their clothing caper to be just that – a prank – but apparently many friends were initially naïve, resulting in a good laugh.

In Oberammergau, where we’ve been living the past two months, it’s not uncommon to see a handful of locals sporting their Bavarian best. Most often, we spot gentlemen in green or grey woolen hats – adorned with pewter pins with hunting motifs, feathers, and brushes made of spiky goat hair.

DSC_0810 DSC_0811

A few days ago, my husband and I, battling a case of ‘cabin fever,’ embarked on a brisk walk through the village. The weather has been unseasonably cold lately, and we quickly developed popsicle toes and fingertips. Seeking an escape from the chilly temperatures before we turned back toward home, we stopped in a traditional clothing store and found ourselves wowed by the array of Bavarian garments for sale.

 

The attention to detail was pleasing: engraved buttons, intricate stitching and colorful fabrics. Prices there generally averaged 200 Euro (about $265) for a Dirndl, plus the price of a frilly, white, cropped blouse. Needless to say, I have three simple Dirndls in my wardrobe (two of which I’ve sported and been spilled upon at Oktoberfest), so I didn’t buy another. The shopkeeper was so friendly and enthusiastic about the upcoming collection, that I might be inclined to do so in the future, though.

 

For the record, Shawn didn’t take an interest in, nor buy the Lederhosen-inspired swim trunks. :)

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

A Toast to Munich’s Oktoberfest

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit. Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit.”  – A traditional German beer drinking song wishing good health and cheer to companions.

I was first exposed to Germany’s Oktoberfest culture when I was eight years old. During a whirlwind trip to Munich, my parents’ German friends whisked us away to what seemed like every famous city landmark.

First, there was Munich’s Rathaus (city hall), where we watched the Glockenspiel figurines on the intricate tower twirl upon the hour. We then headed to the splendid two-domed church called the Frauenkirche. And since a visit to Munich is not complete without stopping by the famous Hofbräuhaus, we ventured there for a hearty meal as well. Once inside the legendary brewery, which dates back to 1589, I recall hearing polka music emanating from shiny brass instruments. Committing a German faux pas, we upset a Lederhosen-clad local when we mistakenly sat at his Stammtisch (a table reserved for regulars).

Continue reading “A Toast to Munich’s Oktoberfest”