Over the years many of our members have written about our most traditional, most important cultural event: Kirchweihfest. None other than Emily Fricker has captured the strong feelings, the history, and the beauty with such words. We will be sharing a series of her writings on the German-Hungarian Kirchweihs here at ughclub.us.
GERMAN HUNGARIAN TRADITIONAL KIRCHWEIHFEST
Sunday, November 23, 2014
As the members of my family know, whenever I have even a few minutes to spare, I write notes, usually plans for the next or future newsletters. Of course, inevitably I lose the notes, however, the thoughts usually remain in my mind. My family also knows, and the readers of this newsletter should have realized by now that my favorite event at our club is the KIRCHWEIHFEST. So, as I was sitting at my daughter’s kitchen table, waiting for my grandson to get ready for his soccer practice where I was to drive him, I began making notes. As I was writing, I looked up and out the window before me, and (I was writing about the Kirchweih) I saw a beautiful Rosemary Bush growing in a huge pot in the corner of the deck. (My son-in-law has a green thumb!) It made me think of a poem, I copied many years ago from a German Danube Swabian newspaper we used to receive monthly. I really only have the first stanza memorized but the words always touch my heart.
A Rosmarein han ich geplanzt
Im Garte hinrem Haus,
Un wann mich mol’s Heemweh pockt,
Zieht’s hin mich zu dem Strauss.
Dort steh ich oft, in mich v’rsunk,
So ganz v’rtieft drvor
Un gsieh in der Erinnerung
Was ich mit ihm v’rlor.
Der Strauch der is mir so v’straut
So wie mei Heem g’wisz;
Wann ich ‘ne nor halt anschau tu,
Ich weesz net, wie’s mir is.
Mir is als waer’s a alte Friend
Den ich schon laengscht v’rmiszt
Den ich no Johre wied’r g’sieh
Un der nich freindlich grueszt.
Mei Rosmarein, der is mir lieb
So wie mei Heimat nor;
Er bleibt for immer mir Symbol
For des was ich verlor.
Drum haeng ich an mei’m Rosmarein
Und pfleg’ne no G’buehr;
Weil er ersetzt uf jede Fall
A Stick’l Heimat mir!
Many of our readers can read German. Many more cannot. I will try to explain the poem:
First let me explain that the title “Mei Rosmarein” means “My Rosemary (bush).” We, the German Hungarians use a ‘rosemary bush” each year at our Kirchweihfest as the symbol of the festival. It is beautifully decorated with colorful ribbons and is chanced off as a special prize and has a special meaning for the winner. If you look up “rosemary” in the dictionary it states: “an evergreen plant (Rosmarinus officinalis) of the mint family, native to the Mediterranean region with clusters of light blue flowers and leaves that yield a fragrant essential oil used in perfumes, cooking, etc. It was earlier called rosmarine.”
Our German ancestors who lived in Hungary did not use it for cooking and probably not for perfumes either but pieces of the bush usually with colorful ribbons on it were worn as a decorative piece at most celebrations. Rosemary stands for remembrance therefore it is fitting that we use this bush at our Kirchweihfest.
Back to the poem. It states: “I planted a rosemary in the garden in back of my house and when I feel homesick, I long for that bush. I stand there often, in deep thoughtfulness and see in my memory what I have lost. The shrub is so familiar to me assuredly my home was. It is as if it was an old friend, one I had missed for a long time and finally after years we meet again with friendly greetings. My rosemary, I find delight in it, as I once delighted in my homeland. It will remain for me the symbol of all that is in the past. So, I remain attached to my rosemary and take care of it as is fitting because it replaces a bit of home for me.”
The time is quickly coming, when there will no longer be anyone who once lived in that land that the German Hungarians called home. There will not even be anyone who knew and spoke to anyone who lived in those countries that our German ancestors called home – Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Romania. We are a small group of people. Will our history survive? Is it important? Our history goes back to 1910 and soon we will be one hundred years old. We have celebrated the Banater type Kirchweih since our founding with our Rosmarein Strauss, the girls in white pleated costumes and colorful shawls, the boys with their decorated hats, the circle formed with polka steps, the German stanzas recited in powerful voices, the honor of dancing a waltz while carrying the Strauss and swinging it wide. This is a beautiful site for many of us. On November 23, 2014, our adult, teen and children’s groups will participate in this typical traditional festival. Will you be there?
EDITOR’S NOTE: this piece was written in 2014 and was originally published in the “Monthly Progress.” It has been re-published here in 2023 with minor edits.
The featured image shows Chrissy Martini and Sasha Malofiy Jr. carrying the Rosmarein Strauss into the 2022 Algemeiner Kirchweihfest at the Trenton Treffen