Storm the town hall!

Storming the town hall is part of the Carnival tradition in many parts of Germany, and this is what it looks like.

Sort of. Actually, an event like this normally attracts huge crowds, but our little village doesn’t normally make a big issue out of Carnival at all. This just has to be the smallest town-hall storming in the whole of Germany, although I am reliably involved that the town of Unna features Germany’s smallest Carnival procession, consisting of one man, a handcart and a plastic donkey.

Strictly speaking, tradition demands that this event takes place on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, but here it was a week early, the realities of modern life meaning that tradition sometimes comes a poor second. The reason, apparently, for this day being the one when the Carnival season really gets into full swing has to do with mediaeval Catholic liturgy: it was the last day before Lent that animals could be slaughtered for food. Friday was out, because meat was not eaten on that day; Sunday was also ruled out as it was the day of rest. And because in the Middle Ages Sunday was considered to begin at sunset the previous evening, this meant that Saturday was essentially a half day and there wasn’t enough time to get all the work done. Monday and Tuesday were theoretically possible, but since Lent began on the Wednesday, this would have meant a lot of meat left over which would spoil and go to waste.

All this information for your delight and edification, brought to you by hours of painstaking googling. You’re welcome.

Farm machinery through the ages

This is a video I put together following a visit to an exhibition of farm machinery of various sorts — actually considerably more interesting than it sounds.

And yes, the Lanz Bulldog at the end really does have a seven-litre single-cylinder two-stroke diesel engine: you heard correctly. Those things are a devil to start, but once you get them going, they do their stuff. Noisily, but they do it.

Kahlgrund Classic 2008

A classic/vintage care rallye we visited yesterday: a bit of a tradition, in fact. Too good to miss when you have a camcorder.

Mind you, it was a little disappointing from the dramatic filmic point of view. This was the pre-race gathering, where the vehicles were inspected and drivers briefed. They then left for the official start in the next village. Obviously, they didn’t all arrive at once, but neither did they leave at once: rather, they left about a minute apart. No field full of cars all revving their engines and no great convoy either.

I didn’t put any sound on this video. I couldn’t find any music that would fit — actually, I did find one or two pieces that sounded promising, but they all had “non-commercial” licences attached, so I couldn’t use them. And there’s no commentary because I didn’t have anything to say.

I don’t know what’s happened to the quality. It’s not terribly good, and YouTube doesn’t seem to have prepared a high quality version — at least, not yet. All rather mystifying, but I do have a couple of theories to get busy with.

Ho hum. Enjoy.

Easter eggs Sorbian style

I found this report quite by chance, from NTDTV.

The Sorbs are an ethnic minority group living in parts of eastern Germany, more closely related to the Poles and Serbians than to Germans. In this report, a Sorbian woman demonstrates the traditional method of painting Easter eggs. It’s a painstaking process, but the result is worth it.