In the staunchly conservative, predominantly catholic German village of my childhood, we children eagerly anticipated three occasions each year: Carnival came around in February, an affair that allowed the entire population to break the social rules and party to the point of excess. Kids collected massive amounts of candy thrown during the parade of the few floats the village could muster, and adults knew that all would be forgiven come confession on Ash Wednesday.
In November we jumped around the bonfires of St. Martin’s Day, with paper- lantern processions illuminating the dark streets at night. Your Kindergarten teacher, wearing a ratty red velvet cape that the saintly knight was said to have shared with a beggar, handed out hot cross buns to all. Both occasions were goose-bump territory: being around unrecognizable, disinhibited adults at the beginning of the year could be mystifying. Being allowed out into the cold night at the end of the year, with fires reflected in the silver helmet of St. Martin’s apparition, could be overwhelming.
Neither, however, compared to the emotions riled up when the circus arrived each summer. This was in the 1950s, over half a century ago, mind you, and circus was still a rather modest affair. They’d pitch a tent on an empty field between the diocese and the fire station, with bleachers in the round close enough to the small arena that you could see the sweat on the acrobats faces and smell the cheap brown stage make-up of grown men playing, I shudder to say, cowboys and Indians while performing tricks on the backs of some exhausted ponies. And always, always a ravishing maiden with a trained poodle. Poor poodle.
Link to Full Article at Your Daily Picture, Friderike Heuer’s Blog.
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