Wittmontag ("White Monday") in Rothenburg
If by some chance you have the opportunity to plan your vacation to Germany for late spring, check the calendar. If you are there on the day after Pentecost, the day known as "White Monday" or "Wittmontag", make that the day to go to Rothenburg. It is a day you will remember for the rest of your life!
What is "Wittmontag" all about? It is a day when the people of Rothenburg (and actually a large number of other towns in Germany) celebrate their heritage. They crack out the old costumes and old customs and put on a festival to beat all other festivals -- complete with parades, old-style markets, games, shows, and food, food, food! There is always something going on somewhere in the town, all you have to do is follow the crowds and/or follow the noise!
While there were parades and other events during the morning, the first significant event was the official opening ceremony. Included was a procession of young people in period costumes, a band, and the official party. The mayor of the town was dressed in formal regalia and presided over the affair. After the festival was formally opened, a dance troupe took too the main marktplatz and performed a traditional dance (pictured above). They were followed by other musical groups who performed period music.
Afterwards, the parades through the rest of the city continued. It seemed like there were about fifteen or twenty different marching troupes -- some with fife and drum (like the above), others of merely singers, still others with dancers and full more-modern marching bands. At different times during the day, they would take their music to the streets and serenade the visitors, while others rested and gathered in the alleys or the city's western garden to sing traditional drinking songs around an old-style fass filled with local brew. (I remarked to my travel companions how the same troupe could sound so cacophonous during those moments yet sing so perfectly on key while parading -- but then again, I'm not much of a singer myself so what do I know?)
The main street of the city was cordoned off for an old traditional marketplace, complete with artisans of every possible trade, like the blacksmith pictured above. There were woodworkers, candlemakers, bakers, you name it, they were there. And the wares were high quality and made in the old tradition.
In the middle of the marketplace was a stage where a comedy troupe entertained the crowd (seen below). These guys were absolutely great -- despite the fact I didn't understand a word they said. Of course, great slapstick comedy is universal.
And then, in the late afternoon, all of the street performers, all of those in period costume, cripe nearly half the town, participated in the main parade through the city. By this time, there were over ten thousand people lining (and crowding) the main streets. The picture below shows a troupe of pikers -- much of the parade showed groups of people dressed as soldiers -- swordsmen, musketeers, pikers, etc.
Whew! All that, plus all the other things that Rothenburg has to offer on a 'normal' day! Yes, I'll never forget this day. Mark your calendars! If you can be there on the day after Passover -- be there! I swear you'll also remember this day as long as you live!
Attended Wittmontag on 4 June 2001 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006