And Gutenberg Lived Here: Winter Coat Sunday

Way back in the middle ages, debts in Germany were settled four times per year,

According to the church calendar.

And the last of these-

St. Michael’s Mass Day, at the end of September-

was important for two reasons.

  1. In the middle ages, and up to modern times, there is full Sunday store closing in Germany.  The only exception being the bakers, who can sell early morning breakfast hard rolls- the staple here- served with luncheon meat, cheese, or jam-  and the coaching inns (today hotels, restaurants, and gas stations- which often have a small shop with everything for an emergency, including windbreakers, eggs, and fresh local apples and potatoes.)

2. having worked hard the whole six-day week, winter coming, cash in your pocket, it was time to:

buy a warm winter coat-

and meet your wife.

Mantel Sonntag-

coat buying Sunday-

used to be a family day of riding rides set up along the Rhine-

a giant ferris wheel with a view for miles,

cotton candy, sugared almonds, steaming chestnuts or hard rolls with steaming roast fresh from the grill,

New wine for the men,

Trinkets for the wife or kids.

And, of course, after church, and the fun of the fair, buying new winter coats,

and often boots,

since the hard winter is coming.

(although we only have about three days of heavy snow per year, but it does get cold)

And for the young singles,

this was the day most small towns set up their bride show-

games and tasks the young 16 pluses in the village had to solve together,

usually for the good of the community,

where they could get to know each other under supervision.

then, among the slightly older ones,

working since the age of 16,

there is the bidding.

a picnic basket, plus girl,

a cake for formal coffee drinking, plus girl.

And even today, as a friend recently told us, in the villages in the hilly regions, the ritual still takes place.

With, as he assures us with great gusto,

the boys pursuing the girls with twig brooms, and, if they catch them, going on a date,

after, of course, paying the price of the bus tickets to the big city and to a movie, or a disco,, or a youth club.

All of which is, of course, quite charming.

Except for the brooms and paying for girls bit.

Still, it is often the highlight of the fall,

And among other events, keeps the village life alive.

But here in the “big city”, we have a different problem with staying “financially viable”- the new watchword over here.

Restaurants on a Sunday used to be the treat for the week.

They are now relatively empty.

Movie houses are only full for the Sunday afternoon family showing of children’s films,

or have to have special events,

like live showings of the  NY Met Opera season, where everyone dresses in evening clothes and pretends they are actually there, since the state of Rhineland-Palatinate has cut its budget for the arts so much the orchestra and singers- here in the state capitol, have to travel to two other opera houses, and, in a minimal cast,  combine with other orchestras to perform anything romantic- or for that matter, larger than baroque. And since there is little money for backdrops and costumes, and the pieces shown have to be standard so the house is full…

A conductor friend just told us two weeks ago he gets to actually premiere ONE new and modern piece this season.

He had tears in his eyes.

And in the mind of the man on the street, who, as far as we can tell, approves more or less of the attitudes of “Mutti” (mommy, as our chancellor is called) , financially everything here is far from “Go Angie”

The city government of Mainz has actually decided that the city is going to be open all FOUR Sundays in October.

For shopping.

In the hopes that,

along with late night shopping,

and midnight and past events,

and women’s taxis,

a check-it bus to store your shopping while you do more,

and a men’s garden, where a wife can park hubby, with a ticket for free card playing, a free beer, and the best bigscreen sports of the week, while they shop at leisure,

they can draw people into the city.

Maybe we should have an event where the locals chase the politicians through the streets with twig brooms.

If they catch them, we get a tax break.

That should bring a lot of people to the city.

copyright L. Heinz 2015 All rights reserved.

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