Happy New Year and merry Epiphany! Growing up Presbyterian, I had never heard of Epiphany or Three Kings day, but now that I know I will share– my apologies to anyone who understands it better than I, this is just a quick intro to how we experience it in Germany. January 6 marks the epiphany, and brings the 12 days of Christmas to an end. In some states in Germany it is a public holiday, but for all Germans it marks the beginning of the carnival or festival season.
Children and church representatives visit every home taking donations and blessing the house with the symbol 20*C+M+B+17. 2017 is the year, (*) for the star of Bethlehem, three crosses (+) for the Holy Trinity, and CMB for the names of the three wise men or “christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this home”. The poor kids who had this job this year were out on the coldest day so far of the season, but every home in town was blessed.
After a minor procedure earlier in the week I was finally feeling like myself again and we jumped at the opportunity to hit one of our favorite flomarkt’s and experience the Knut festival in Weidenthal over the Epiphany weekend. Homburg market was COLD and much smaller than usual, but everyone in our family found treasures. Brock picked out a Playmobil tractor for 3€, I got a beautiful kitchen rack and tools, and Fil stocked up on wood files and saw blades that he will use for knife making.
Since the market was so much smaller than usual, we had time after the market to visit an antique shop that has been on my list for a while before we were hungry enough for lunch. The shop was another hit! We got a poster art print of a beautiful bird that we often see at my feeders and also a huge 1930’s German school chart of freshwater fish. The owner will be getting more prints and school charts soon and I told him to look for technical ones for us- sewing for my craft room and construction, farming, and airplanes for Brock’s bedroom. I cannot wait to see what he finds for us!
Saturday was already a really great day for us, but you know how it is… Sunday FunDay! Fun and unusual festivals are nothing new for us and I always love to give them a shot. We have been to our local wheelbarrow races, garbage can races, rubber duck races, and now can add to the list Christmas tree throwing competition!
I read that Weidenthal, which is only about an hour away, was hosting a Swedish Knut festival and absolutely had to go. I talked Fil into venturing into the cold and snow two days in a row by promising a Christmas tree chucking contest and then a tree bonfire. For a man who says he “hates” Christmas trees it was an easy win! The cherry on top was lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Kaiserslautern on the way to Weidenthal.
This was the 15th annual festival and just like past years, international press was present taking interviews. I know we were in the direct shot of a few film cameras so Brock and I may be making our international news debut somewhere :).
The competition is like a track and field event with three parts: vertical throw (high jump), long throw (shot put), and spinning throw (hammer throw). This year the first place male winner was a local, Christopher Milloth, whose output totaled 23.54 meters. He had the gold in the high throw this year as well with 5.5 meters. The female winner, Alexandra Köpper, totaled 15.95 meters in the three events. The current male world record is held by Frank Schwender at 25.01 meters.
Of course, being Germany, this wasn’t just a sports competition. There was hot gluwein sold by the half liter (usually its sold 1/5 liter), crepes and hot sandwiches, guggenmusik which is similar to carnival or marching band music, and naturally, a bon fire to dispose of all the trees. We had much more fun that we were expecting! Brock’s favorite song was actually “la cucaracha”—go figure, and we had our first family snow fight <3. (click here for a youtube link of how la cucaracha sounds in the german Guggenmusik style).
I even practiced for next year with one of the practice trees they had out for play. Really a great weekend, and a great way to kick off the carnival season. Oh, and added bonus… to get there was had to drive through a village named FRANKENSTEIN, and yes, there was a crumbling castle on the mountain watching over the village!