11 July 2007

A Week of Celebrations

Hopefully all of the events that I describe below will help explain why there's been such a lack of postings for the last couple weeks. I've simply been so busy with these and preparing for exams.

A Bavarian Evening was held in the Theke student bar two, almost three by now, Thursdays ago. The night was filled with typical Bavarian activities, food, drinks, and music. The highlight was the Bayerische Fuenf Kampf, or the Bavarian five event competition.

As the story was told to me, people compete in competitions like these during very traditional Bavarian festivals. Germans from the northern part of the country even told me that this was foreign to them. One can trace just about all of the events to the historical rural lifestyle of Bavaria.

First up was the milking of the cow. Of course it's a little difficult to bring a cow into a bar, so the competitors had to make due with a wooden drawing of a cow and water buckets as the udders. The team who can fill the buckets up the fastest wins.

Second was the log cutting. The faster the time it took a team to saw through the long, the more points they would receive.

Nailing was the third event. One member of each team had to drive three nails into a log while under the clock. After watching this and the log cutting I would say most of the all girl teams were at a disadvantage, or maybe it's better to say they seemed to lack the experience needed.

It wouldn't be a Bavarian event if beer was not somehow involved. The next competition in line was the beer holding. Contestants were given a liter glass of water (actually using beer would have been too expensive, but it is the traditional method) and held it extended out from their body with a straight arm. Once one's arm surrenders to gravity he is out of the contest.

The last event was a dance contest. I suppose the idea here is for the contestants to demonstrate the traditional Bavarian styles, but given that all of the people involved were college students few examples of such dancing were seen.

The award ceremony concluded the night's interesting and entertaining insight into Bavarian culture.

However, I didn't have to wait long for another traditional piece of Bavaria: the Volksfest. The weekend after the Bavarian Evening was the Eichstaett Festival and for three days the old town center was filled with people, activities, music, and of course the pungent aroma of beer. The famous Oktoberfest in Munich is simply a Volksfest that has reached gigantic proportions. Many towns across Bavaria and the rest of Germany stage smaller but similar events throughout the year.

The festival included something for people of all ages. On Saturday, the busiest day, there were four stages offering a wide array of musical selections, from Bavarian folk to Irish punk. The later band only spoke English, so most of their jokes and comments fell on deaf ears. One stage and area filled with couches and coffee tables was obviously set up to appeal to teenagers. I found the city's attempt to include all age groups in the festival a quality foreign to most of the similar events I've visited in America.

I spent the first night mostly with other Americans. Below you can see, from the left, Hanna, Rachel, und Mariko from Japan.

Once again, it's not a Bavarian festival without a little beer.

Here's me, Hanna, and Detta from Italy.

This was only one of the traditional Bavarian bands to take the stage during the three days. I began to notice that all such bands included certain other American songs in their repertoire, like "Rolling on the River" and "Sweet Home Alabama."

Rain appeared imminent more than once, but it never actually fell on the festival.

I spent Saturday night with Steffi and other Germans. As you can see, Eichstaett is definitely in the heart of Bavaria.

A few days later after the last day of the festival on Sunday the Americans in town held a small party on the Fourth of July. One of the reporters with the student radio station was present to gather interviews for a story. Drizzles and chilly temperatures created less than ideal conditions, but we managed to grill out and celebrate America in spite of it. Remembering very well the 100 hamburgers we had made a week before, Dylan and I never even considered making more. Instead we settled on bratwurst and pork steak. To our dissapointment one can not find beef steak too easily here. In the photo below the student reporter and friend of Dylan, Laura, sits next to Jeremy of Washington state.

I brought a themed cake for dessert. It surprised me that the other Americans had never seen anything like it.

Fireworks are illegal in Germany for all but New Years Eve. Small sparklers had to suffice.

The weekend after the Fourth of July, as in the past weekend, Dylan and I made an excursion to Berlin. Look for that story to come later in the week. Hopefully you can now understand better as to why I have not written more frequently in the last couple weeks. Unfortunately with exams beginning this week and other celebrations on the horizon I will probably not be writing too many other posts any time soon.


DaddyO said...

Nicholas, good to hear from you, not getting/seeing/reading these posts regularly causes me withdrawals. haha Hey, you think if they had a little bigger hammer the nailing competition might be a little easier! I also noted the shoes on the one guy laced on the side. Is that period dress or a trend in Germany. I ask, because I'm starting to see alot of shoes on sale here that lace on the side. Just wonder if that's a trend making it way over the pond.
Look forward to the Berlin post.

mom said...

Enjoyed the post. It seems like there are a lot of town festivities in Eichstaett. For being a small town, it has quite a bit for the residence - I like the idea of including all ages in the planning too.

Have you received any packages in the mail as of yet or had any attempted for delivery? Hopefully you will soon - it has items to maybe enjoy as you study for the exams ahead. Let me know if you have not and I will have to set up a trace. Take care.

mom said...

oh by the way - great cake...

Nick O. said...

Dad: I'm not sure about the shoes but I'm guessing that since they are being worn by a guy in lederhosen that they are probably somewhat traditional. Perhaps you can think of the less frequent postings as preperation for the day when this blog reaches its conclusion.

Mom: There really is alot offered in this town. Just last night was another festival hosted by the university. I received the package yesterday, it was a great surprise. The box was a little beat up from the trans-Atlantic voyage, but the contents went unharmed. And thanks for the praise on the cake.