German Traditions and Festivals
Published March 04, 2009
In addition to many German customs, you will discover many traditions and festivals to participate in. Everyone hears about the Munich "Oktoberfest" - it's held in September, not in October. Here in the Pfalz, wine festivals are the tradition. The annual Bad Durkheim Wurstmarkt, with its wine and sausage, will give you an opportunity to see German tradition at its best without traveling far from Kaiserslautern. In February, the "Fasching," or carnival season comes to a climax on "Rosenmontag" (Rose Monday), and "Fetter Dienstag" (Fat Tuesday) the two days before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The Mainz Parade is one of the best. You can put your costume on and climb aboard the train from Vogelweh or other small towns for a reasonable price. You can find celebrations and festivals to visit all year round in Europe. Local recreation centers offer inexpensive transportation and/or accommodation for all the major festivals.
One of the most pleasant social traditions in Germany is "volksmarching:" usually a 10- or 20- kilometer (6.2 or 12.4 miles) walk at your own pace. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet with friends and neighbors, to make new friends, enjoy the scenery and history of Europe, sample new and delicious foods and drink, and participate in some non-strenuous exercise. Many military installations have their own volksmarching clubs. For more information you can read the Thursday edition of STARS & STRIPES and the Friday KA. Every weekend there is at least one volksmarch nearby.
If you like walking, but prefer to do it alone, or just with your family and friends, you will find many forest trails in the Pfaelzerwald (Palatinate Forest) very inviting. You should purchase from your local bookstore the map, Naturpark Pfaelzerwald Mit Markierungen Des Pfaelzerwald Vereins (The Nature Parks of the Pfalz Forest with Marking from the Clubs of the Area). All the trails are marked with special symbols.
When walking through the forest, never abuse trees, flowers or wildlife. Fires, littering and motorized vehicles in forest areas are strictly prohibited. Your stay in Germany will be rewarding, especially if you make an effort to understand the ways of the country and its people.