Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP) from 2010: Info and photos about Bamberg, Germany's Advent Christmas Market and the main one on MaxPlatz.
You know that I teach English in Germany, right? If not, it’s probably your first visit to this blog. Either that or you’ve just not been paying attention! In any case, I live in a small village outside of Bamberg called Bischberg. It’s typically Franconian, which is a unique little portion of Bavaria.Bischberg’s population runs about 4,500 and it’s more or less a bedroom community for Bamberg. However, it has its own identity and the people are very committed to their traditions. I’ve written many times about Bischberg’s award-winning marching oompah band and they have their own summer beer fest each year, complete with parade and so forth.However, this year is special. Bischberg is celebrating its 1000th anniversary. That’s right, there are three zeroes in that number. The little berg was founded in 1013 and is one thousand years old!There have been and will be many festivities throughout the year to celebrate this momentous birthday. Recently, back in July, there was a whole weekend devoted to celebrating the millenium milestone.My husband James and I even went so far as to visit the town hall during the week and buy our own commemorative beer steins. They sport the logo of the thousand-year celebration and came with free pens and a tote bag each! I couldn’t get the whole logo in the shot on just one of the mugs, so I put them together so they would give you an idea of what the logo looks like. It depicts the church and a boat on the river. Note the real tin lids (deckels in German) – we got the upgrade: On Friday evening the celebration opened with a small procession by the school children, ending at the beer tent. The buzz all week was that the big feature of the beer tent that night would be a whole ox roasted on a spit, or Ochsen am Spieß in German, which sounds like “oaks ahm shpeece.” I heard that phrase so many times during the week! Because everyone was so excited about it, I thought I’d better go check it out.What a letdown! What a dried-up, overcooked letdown! I made a stop-motion animation out of the still shots I took of it.It must have been cooking for days! I doubt it would have fed many folks. It’s a good thing that guy working so hard in the video was slicing beef and pork roasts that had been cooked in an oven somewhere else. I doubt they could even slice the poor Ochs! More like ox jerky. It reminded me of the turkey in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!But there was still Saturday. On the docket for Saturday was the “historical market.” The whole town, which is the immediate vicinity of my apartment, was to be blocked off to traffic and there were to be many booths and tents representing local businesses and historical guilds and such. One of my students was one of the organizers and she’d given me a few details. It sounded legit, so we decided to check it out, too.On this particular Saturday, July 13, my husband and I were joined by our friends Carmela and Ivan for one final fling before the Army sent them scurrying to Virginia to leave us here all alone with no one to drink beer with.Before Carmela and Ivan showed up, James and I attended the official opening of the market which took place about 20 steps from my apartment. The church choir serenaded us with the Franconian “national anthem” and a few other nice, welcoming songs:
If you locate the smallish man in the front row wearing a red vest with gold buttons then count two people to the left, you’ll see my landlady. Eighty-seven years old and still sings in the choir! I gave her a copy of this shot and a few others I took that day. She ended up buying five copies for other people in the choir who’d seen them and wanted them! Neat!
On the last weekend of June every year, Germans – at least the ones in Franconia where I live – get together to celebrate the first day of summer, otherwise known as midsummer or summer solstice. The focus of this fest is a giant bonfire which is lit after the sun goes down. This gives the populace time to enjoy the local beer, some bratwurst and accompanying oompah music from the local band. Check out the freelance article I wrote about the history and traditions of this festival.Whatever its orgins, Bischberg had its Johannisfeuer on June 21 this year. My husband and I were invited by Alycja, who runs the flower shop downstairs from my apartment. Bischberg lies on the river, so the fire is held there every year.We walked the three blocks down to the river where the welcome banner had been strung across the entrance to the bike/walking path along the river. The entrance is actually an overpass; above it is a section of autobahn bypass: Immediately on the other side of the overpass was the giant, unlit bonfire awaiting its fiery fate:
Germany’s (all of Europe, in fact) equivalent of Labor Day: May 1st. Banks and most businesses are closed, including the supermarkets. However, cafes, bistros, restaurants and especially beer gardens are in full swing. See my photos of Bamberg's samba band and speech event plus join me for a famous Rauchbier (smoke beer).