Culture

Franconian Word of the Month – November

Winfried von Wittsburg

Kärwa /kɛr-va/

Hochdeutsch: Kirchweih

English: Church anniversary or country / parish fair

The Kärwa is probably the most popular donnybrook fair that one can find in Bavaria and even Germany. Its origins can be found in the medieval ages when the building of a church took quite a few years and the consecration of the building was considered a big event. The day of consecration would therefore be celebrated each year in what nowadays is the Kärwa.

Kärwas can be found all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland, although oftentimes, with different names (e. g. Kirmes, Kerb, Kilbi and others). Especially in Franconia with its many small villages and their little churches, the Kärwa seems to be one of the only big events each year for the young’uns to get out and party hard. Usually people, even from other neighbouring villages, saunter to the Kärwa in high spirits and, if there are no cabs available, saunter back home with high spirits inside them in the middle of the night. Essentially, imagine Oktoberfest on a way smaller scale and you’re halfway there.

At a Kärwa, young people from the village usually also fell and carry a Maibaum – a tree that gets decorated with colourful bannerets – into the village which will be erected at a suitable place, oftentimes accompanied by gallons of beer, a walking orchestra and the cheers of onlookers. Germany being what it is, this tradition has gone more and more into obscurity because of the mounting regulations on how to safely erect a Maibaum, with it foremost being that the raisers shall not be drunk while doing their work. Franconians, being who they are, mostly ignore that and still honour the tradition to this day.

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