Another harvest season has come and gone. The hops fields have been cleared, the rows of corn have been harvested, and the fields have begun to be plowed, prepping them for the approach of winter.
When you think about Thanksgiving, you traditionally think of it only as an American holiday celebrated to give thanks for another good harvest year. We carry on this tradition to remember the Pilgrims who gave thanks to the Native Americans for their help through a bitter, harsh winter. However, Thanksgiving isn’t just unique to America. Many countries around the world come together at the end of another successful harvest season to give their thanks in some form or another.
In the small Bavarian farm village of Bad Gögging, located between Regensburg and Ingolstadt, a festival known as “Erntedankfest” has taken place every year since 2006. The festival includes open air folks music with locals dancing to the tunes. Everyone wears their best, most traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl. Families and friends gather to celebrate, peruse the stalls adorned with hops selling traditional Bavarian goods. This one day festival is typically held on the last Sunday of every September.
In Germany, Erntedankfest is a traditional Christian celebration where believers come together to thank God. Usually this day of Thanksgiving is normally at the end of September or the first Sunday in October.
So, if you’re looking for a traditional experience, avoiding any tourists (besides myself) and want to experience true Bavarian culture, then head to the smallest village you can find. It is here you will truly find a revival of Bavarian culture celebrated not for tourists, but for themselves.
While you might think this festival should be hundreds of years old like other festivals in Germany, you would be surprised to learn that 2016 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the festival. Like many villages around Germany and predominately in Bavaria, Bad Gögging revitalized their Bavarian historical traditions by creating this festival in 2006. It’s a part of the trend that hit Germany in the early 2000s to bring back cultural aspects. You could say that they were finding their identity again after loosing it during WWII and during the separation between East and West Germany. Many aspects of Bavarian culture came back in full swing, with Lederhosen and Dirndl becoming fashionable again, festivals and the display of state pride.
Starting at 1pm, a small parade marches down the main street of Bad Gögging, through the town and into the town square, with the towns people following behind ready to celebrate. Decorating the background of the dance floor is a colorful display of produce from the end of another successful harvest, topped with a crown made from
The hats that the Bavarian men wear with the hair from a chamois are called Gamsbart. They are incredibly expensive because they are handmade.
Erntedankfest is similar to the American Thanksgiving only in the respect that they give thanks to God for the good harvest season, but there is traditionally no big dinner celebration like Americans are accustomed to having, although that doesn’t mean that family and friends don’t gather to eat some delicious food afterwards.