16 May, 2005

Schönen Pfingsten!

It's Pfingsten Day today so we have no classes.  Ten days ago it was Christi Himmelfahrt, so we had no classes.  I like May; school is apparently not very important this month.

Christi Himmelfahrt can be translated as the "Jesus Heaven-Travel," I'm assuming this is the Ascension.  But to Germans, the important part of this day is not that Jesus, following his resurrection from death, physically floated, body and soul, from the earth, ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father... No. It's beer.  Wheel barrels of it.

This is the tradition:     Drink.  All day.  With the family.

Father's go out with their sons and drink a wheel barrel full of beer.  You may think that when I say "wheel barrel" that I am simply exaggerating to give you an amusing mental picture of entire German families pushing wheel barrels with beer bottles everywhere.  This however, is exactly the picture you need to have to know what happens every year to commemorate the Ascension of Christ.  You could replace beer bottles with kegs, but the wheel barrels stay.

I suppose the tradition could have something to do with Jesus.  Perhaps the Father-Son aspect of pushing the wheel barrel comes from the well documented, yet unpopular, theory that Jesus did not actually leave his disciples because he thought his time on Earth had come to its rightful end, and that they were ready to spread his word across the world without him--but that he wanted to drink a wheel barrel of beer with God, his father.  And thus, Germans celebrate this day by drinking wheel barrels of beer with their fathers, as Jesus did, two-thousand years ago.  WWJD?  Drink beer, apparently.

And now it is Pfingsten.  My dictionary informs me that this means Whitsun, Pfingstmontag means Whit Monday, and Pfingstsonntag means Whit Sunday.  Whit the hell?  I have no idea whit any of this is.

Ten days after the Jesus Heaven-Travel places this holiday at the Pentacost.  So whitever the dictionary says, I'm calling this day the Pentacost.  Unfortunately, there is no exciting tradition around this holiday, other than that everything is closed.  I assume it is merely the day commemorating the end of the ten day hangover God had from the heavenly sized keg in the angel-pulled wheel barrel.

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