How customs and traditions are maintained in Tölzer Land
Customs in the course of the year
Customs and culture in Tölzer Land are maintained and kept alive – not only for church events but also during festivals and celebrations.
March / April
• Palmweihe blessing of the palms
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter and marks the start of the Holy Week. On this holiday, homemade Palmbuschen – sticks decorated with various twigs, catkins, crêpe paper, etc. – are carried to church, mostly by boys. The blessed Palmbuschen are kept in the home shrine, on the roof or barn.
• Easter fire and the blessing of food
The Easter fire is lit in front of the church on Easter eve and then blessed by the pastor. The blessing of food takes place during the church services on the Easter holidays. Tree sponges hung on iron hooks are lit and made to smolder over the Easter fire. Then they are carried from house to house, mostly by boys. To protect the house and its occupants, a piece of the glowing sponge is tossed into the fire of every stove. Usually the boys are rewarded with gifts of money and sweets.
• The Maypole
The maypole is an ancient, heathen fertility symbol that is erected solely by men on May 1st.
In some places a Whitsuntide tradition is for young men to set up a “Pfingsthansl”. This is done for couples who are (still) not married. The Pfingsthansl is a puppet stuffed with straw which is set onto the ridge of the roof. Whitewash is also used to paint sayings about certain people onto the streets in the night from Whit Sunday to Whit Monday – many a love affair has been disclosed in this manner. Households that fail to keep their yard neat and tidy are “punished” by having items that are lying about collected and transported to the village square.
• Corpus Christi
Over the centuries the processions – attracting crowds of people from far away – in the various communities of Tölzer Land have developed their own characteristics.
• Johanni or midsummer bonfire
The Johannifeur midsummer bonfire is a Germanic national custom, originally intended to ward off evil spirits and demons. Even today, fires are lit on the mountains to celebrate the beginning of summer. The Johannifeuer is named after Saint John the Baptist and is lit on the surrounding mountains on a Saturday around June 24.
• Assumption Day
Assumption Day is probably the oldest and highest celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is held on August 15. Tied bundles of herbs are brought on this day for sanctification. The herb bundles, dried and stored in the house, are intended to protect the home against storms.
The Kirchweih (Kirta) parish fair is held on the 3rd Sunday in October. Homemade Kirtanudeln pastries are especially popular here. Many farms set up a Kirtahutschn for the parish fair, a large swing for multiple persons which is not only popular among children. They are also enjoyed by many who are young at heart. Some communities hold a Kirtatanz dance in the evening.
Saint Leonhard, the patron saint of horse and rider, is revered throughout Bavaria. Numerous Leonhardifahrt processions or rides are held throughout Tölzer Land in his honor around November 6. The Tölzer Leonhardi is one of the most popular. Every year, thousands of spectators flock to Bad Tölz to marvel at the decorated carts and horses.