May 2006


Religious Kegger

Happy father’s day – by Durex

Originally uploaded by Matte0.

I never really thought that my oblique reference to Thursday being a religious holiday where a lot of beer is consumed in the woods to raise so many questions—namely what religious holiday inspires a kegger in the woods.

For those of you who want a short concise answer, Anonymous B. provides one in yesterday’s comments, for the rest of you, feel free to keep reading, ‘cause I have a feeling that this should be a fun one.

Thursday is Ascension, a religious holiday that I believe is little known in the United Sates. I am surprised by this because one would think that the ascension of Jesus from Earth to Heaven would be big events for not just Catholics, but those Christians who take direction from Pat Robertson and James Dobson. However unlike the real Christian Holidays (e.g. Christmas, Easter, and Mardi Gras), perhaps its too difficult for retailers to make a buck off of Chocolate Jesus Dolls (as opposed to Chocolate Santas, Chocolate Eggs, and King Cakes).

Today Germany is 33% Catholic, 33% Protestant, and a whopping 28.5% of the population non-religious. (Random Factoid: we have a very accurate accounting in Germany because everyone is required to register their current address with the government, and among the obligatory questions on the form one identifying your religion. If you’re a registered member of a religion in Germany, it is possible (depending upon the sect) that the government will tax you directly on behalf of your church—which is an especially good reason to be sure you officially declare your agnostic atheistism.)

Regardless of Germany’s religious make-up, it is my distinct impression that Ascension is one of those religious holidays whose meaning has been forgotten: last year when I asked what holiday it was and what happened, the Germans I spoke to had to look up its origins. (And to be honest, after reading about Ascension in Wikipedia, I’m not exactly clear what happened that day. I’m not clear how Jesus actually goes to heaven and sits next to god, it appears not to be well explained—however since I’m not a believer, I don’t really care.)

So since the Germans don’t actually care about Ascension, the holiday’s purpose has been modified a bit: It is now also Father’s Day.

And Father’s Day in Germany is different from Father’s Day in America, and not just that obvious calendar difference.

One might celebrate Father’s Day in the States by bring Daddy a box of Chocolates, going out for a family dinner, or, not surprisingly, calling Dad collect (per Wikipedia, more collect calls are made on Father’s Day than any other day of the year, in the United States).

In Germany men celebrate Father’s Day by going out to the woods and getting drunk. We (the non-Germans at my office) were warned about this event—cautioned that bike paths would be filled with men pushing barrels of beer into the woods using old baby carriages. Once in the woods they then start drinking the beer and having a good time (although I’m willing to bet a decent amount of beer is consumed even before reaching the destination). Sometimes they don’t even make it as far as the woods—at least one restaurateur I know of in Germany makes money off men too lazy to hike in the woods coming to the restaurant and drinking their way through the day.

If I wake early, I fully intend on going out and taking a long walk out into the fields west of Weimar, however, should I wake too late, I might just avoid it and stay home.

As much as I enjoyed drinking vodka in Kyiv, I don’t really think I’d enjoy encountering drunk German men in the woods.

6 comments to Religious Kegger

  • MT

    In the Red States of America … your description sounds like the opening day of deer season. LOL!

  • ChrisC

    Since this is a seemingly all-male event it makes me wonder if the woods in Germany are a huge national cruising area for gay men on this day.

  • IUMike

    I think I would very much enjoy encountering drunk German men in the woods. Sounds like a good weekend at Saugatuck to me.

  • Rex

    Hi, Adam! Stop whining about Christi Himmelfahrt and come down to Graz and visit me. Personally, I am rather welcoming the day off. I’m thinking about heading off this evening to see The da Vinci Code in the original at the Royal English Cinema. I think that there is a certain irony in the fact that having Christi Himmelfahrt off might give me the time to go see a film about “heretic” beliefs/views about the historical Jesus, several of which I tend to embrace (e.g. that he was married to Mary “Magdalene”).

    By the way, Bucko, I’m going to be in Vienna in about two weeks. Is that close enough to Weimar to get you to come visit? I’ve even been playing with the idea of taking a side trip to Bratislava.

    Hope to hear from you soon. Please reply to IU e-mail.

  • I never really thought of it in homoerotic terms, but now that you mention it, it does have possiblities.

  • Rex

    I’d rather encounter Mike drunk in the woods.