Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Celebration a la Luneburg

Last week, we had a combined celebration in the city of Luneburg. On the one hand, it was Unification Day, an official national holiday to celebrate the unification of East Germany and West Germany. On the other hand, it was the Sulfmeister (Salt Master) Festival to celebrate Luneburg's heritage and its 1050 birthday.

In the Salt Museum, which tells the history of salt mining and processing at Luneburg, a document is displayed that for the first time mentions Luneburg and salt and is signed by the Holy Roman Emperor. The date is 956.

The celebration featured a parade and lots of music. One evening, they had a Swedish Big Band playing American swing music to the German audience. It was great to hear Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington (two black men and a Jew) on the medieval streets of Luneburg. The crowd call them out for three encores!

I'm providing you a couple of photos of the parade. There were lots of people in Medieval costumes and a bunch of American-style marching bands. In particular, I got some photos of the Black Diamonds Marching Band but there were others. Also, there were several marching musical groups in kind of traditional unforms. Very colorful. The musical emphasis was a refreshing change from some Fourth of July parades in the US that feature beer trucks.

One highlight of the festival was in a tent where a man dressed like a medieval worker was making salt right on the spot by apparently boiling salt-laden water. Interesting. And hard work.

Also, both the Catholic and Protestant churches were represented with large marching contingents. The Catholics featured, in part, altar boys dressed in the traditional black cassock and white surplus I remember well from my own days as an altar boy. The Lutherans sported t-shirts that read "Du bist Luther" or "You are Luther."

In another post, I'll provide some poor but entertaining photos of the beer barrel-rolling competition.


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