Harvest festivals mark the transition from summer into autumn by showcasing the bounties of the region. When I visited the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Southwestern Germany last October – the area where I was born and lived for the first 20 years of my life – I had to choose between an over-abundance of events.
My favorite festival was the Erntedank- und Weinfest (Wine and Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) in Sasbachwalden, one of the most beautiful villages in the Black Forest. The main event was a parade consisting of music bands, floats, harvest and crafts demos with an emphasis on traditional ways.
Huge haybale characters and a traditional hay wagon marked the beginning of the parade route.
Hundreds of people were gathering along the side of the road leading into the village
I marveled at all the dirndls and lederhosen outfits many of the spectators wore with a sense of style and pride
Floats were elaborately decorated with flowers and often displayed specialties of the region (bread, ham, wine, beer)
A very popular theme, of course, was grapes, grape harvest, and the fine wines of the region. This man carries a wooden container on his back which was traditionally used for harvesting grapes. The second man pretends to fill a ceramic pitcher, traditionally used for serving the fizzy new wine.
Monasteries were famous for their wines and other spirited beverages as well as abundant vegetable and flower gardens.
And here is Bacchus himself, the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility. His oversized glass was filled with real wine and his reddened face betrayed his liberal indulgence along the parade route.
Wine and schnapps were freely passed around (no cheap candies here) to anyone who asked:
Many Germans join music bands (Musikverein) as children which often becomes a lifelong hobby and social connection. Each band wears distinctive clothing reflecting the traditional costumes of their town or region.
All ages participated and enjoyed being part of the parade.
There was a joyous spirit of celebration, fellowship with relatives and townspeople, and a sense of proud contentment.