Customs and traditions in the region of the Lower Rhine, numerous festivals within a year are based on religious festivals that are or were firmly connected to the Christian faith in the Lower Rhine. Although many public holidays are celebrated all over Germany, regional customs have become deeply rooted in individual festivals and traditions. The following explanations give a small insight into some of the most important or special customs and traditions on the Lower Rhine.
Customs & Traditions in the region of the Lower Rhine
Marksmen’s Fest / Fun Fair
Marksmen’s fest and fun fair (Kirmes & Schützenfeste) on the Lower Rhine are still popular meeting places for young and old. Major events such as the Rheinkirmes on the Rhine meadows in Düsseldorf can be seen more differentiated. These are rather big events that attract millions of people from all over the region. In contrast, small village fair festivals are a highlight for the local population. Here people still know each other and exchange news and gossip over a glass of beer. The fair is often organized by the local marksmen’s brotherhood, so that the marksmen’s fest and the fair merge into one.
This already shows the social concept of the marksmen’s brotherhood, who are often culturally and socially committed, which is not always and everywhere known. Because marksmen’s festivals are often seen as drinking bouts. They are the annual highlight of every brotherhood, which take place according to predetermined procedures and support and promote the social life of the community.
Holy 3 Kings
Holy 3 Kings on January 6th is the day of the star singers who go from house to house in many places in the Lower Rhine to write the house blessing C + M + B + year over or next to the gates of the house. The C + M + B is often equated with the three saints Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, but the blessing is actually the abbreviation for Christ Mansionem Benedicta, May Christ bless this house. It is a Catholic custom that connects several goals. On the one hand, it recalls the story of the 3 saints who followed the star of Nazareth, and on the other hand, the custom brings blessings to both people at home and to many children in the world. Because the star singers collect gifts for the world’s poor children on their way.
Holy Week and Easter:
Holy Week (from Kara = death complaint) begins on Palm Sunday and reaches its sad climax on Good Friday. This week commemorates the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. In the past, Holy Week was characterized by fasting dishes, but today it is especially Good Friday, when fasting or eating fish. Easter, on the other hand, is the feast of the resurrection, which in many families begins on Easter Sunday with the egg hunt. The Easter fire is also widespread, which is lit during the Easter night in the parish. Easter Monday belongs to the family and is often used for an Easter walk. Easter is the festival of renewal. Lent has come to an end and spring is just around the corner. The gloomy winter has come to an end and nature is reviving.
Assumption of Mary
The feast of the Assumption of Mary is one of the oldest celebrations of the Catholic Church. from the 7th century to the present, herbal dedication has been celebrated on August 15 each year. Although this has faded somewhat into the background on the Lower Rhine, it is now being revived.
Carnival, also called Fastnacht or Fasteloavend in the region of Rhine, is celebrated boisterously on the Rhine and Lower Rhine. If the festival is sometimes attributed to pagan cults, where the evil spirits should be driven out, carnival is more of an ancient Catholic-Christian festival, which can already be derived from the name Fastnacht or Carnival, as these already indicate the upcoming Lent .
Beer, in particular Altbier, has been brewed for centuries. Breweries are also a place of communication.
Valentine’s Day on February 14 is one of the modern customs on the Lower Rhine and throughout Europe. This day is dedicated to all lovers who show their love and friendship by giving gifts to the loved one. Flowers are one of the most common confessions of love. So that the rumor circulated in many minds that Valentine’s Day was launched by the flower industry.
May 1st is often equated with Labor Day. But traditionally the awakening of nature was celebrated on May 1st. The dance in May is widespread. In addition, young men place a maypole in front of the house for their selected women. The magnificent maypole, which is put up by the entire village community, is mostly on the village square, after all, it is supposed to scare away all evil.
Pentecost days are used by many people from Lower Rhine for a short vacation to the Dutch North Sea, which is particularly a tradition among young people. For those who stay on the Lower Rhine, the flax market, a medieval market, offers a special destination. It recalls the long tradition that markets in the past had every spring on the Lower Rhine.
All Saints on November 1st is commemorated for all Saints in the Church. After the solemn services, Christians go to the cemeteries and light candles to commemorate the deceased. Whole families often meet on this day to commemorate their loved ones.
On September 4th, St. Irmgardis from the Lower Rhine is commemorated. She is the city patron of Süchteln, where she lived very secluded around 1520 before making some pilgrimages to Rome. Today, solemn processions are held in memory of St. Irmgardis in the chapel of the same name on the Suchtelner Heights.
St. Martin Festival
St. Martin Festival is celebrated on November 11 in memory of St. Martin, who, according to legend, shared his coat with a sword on a cold winter day to share it with a freezing beggar. St. Martin stands for charity and compassion. He is also the patron saint of beggars. Children and many others. On this day, children walk the streets with lanterns and receive small gifts for the songs they sing. a very special Martins procession takes place in the city of Kempen. It is one of the most splendid Martins parades on the Lower Rhine, because hundreds of children run with their torches along the Rinstrasse in the city. St. Martin’s other customs are the Martin’s goose and the Martin’s fire. One of the most beautiful parades to St Martin takes place on November 10th in Kempen
The Advent season, the first highlight of the Advent season, is St. Nikolaus on December 6th, which was of great importance in the past on the Lower Rhine, because on this day the gift was given earlier. If you put cleaned shoes in front of the door today, it used to be wooden blocks that were hoped to be filled by Santa Claus the next day.
But today December 24th is the ultimate highlight of every Christmas. Because this day is celebrated in memory of the birth of Jesus Christ. Lights shine everywhere on this day, and a brightly decorated Christmas tree is a must for many people, even though it only became common in the Lower Rhine after 1900.
Initially it was evangelical Christians who put up a Christmas tree, today you can find the decorated tree decorated with lights all over the Lower Rhine. Christmas markets are also part of the Advent season.