Part 4: Pentecost Traditions

Less noticed, the feast of Pentecost already began a few days earlier. There, the ordered Pentecost May – young birch trees – were distributed by horse-drawn wagon in the village. For this purpose, the Pentecost boys had divided themselves into several groups and drove from house to house.

A few musicians and a coach driver accompanied the boys. The distribution of the Pentecost May went like this: ‘We bring for the family so-and-so the ordered Pentecost may’ – Fanfare! – ‘Long live the so-and-so family!’ – Fanfare!

The fee for the little tree – sometimes there were two – was collected. The expert in the house bought a round of schnapps or a beer, and the birch trees were placed in the prepared water buckets in front of the door. The band played a few waltz bars, and the householder danced with his wife in the yard or in the street. In the afternoon, the carriage was empty, the Pentecostal boys, the musicians and the coachman were dead drunk. Only the horses remained sober, and they knew the way home, thank God, very well.

My parents had already moved several times in the village, but our living conditions still remained miserable. The new apartment consisted of a brick-walled gable room in the attic of a relatively large house. The sleeping quarters were one flight of stairs down at the end of a long, windowless, dark hallway. The toilet was in the courtyard, as always. The only water faucet for the three families living in the house was in the dark hallway. Through two windows in the gable wall of the living room, the huge blue-black shimmering slag heap and the copper smelter could be seen over the roofs of the village. The wallpapered small board door in the other wall led into a tiny storage room under the bare tiled roof.

However, there was one novelty: Through the windows of the parlor, a spectacle repeating itself at regular intervals could be observed, which was very impressive, especially at night. When the tapping at the smelting furnace of the copper smelter took place, a light railway locomotive with three tipping lorries twitched shortly afterwards to the outermost edge of the slag heap. Shadowy as goblins, a few men tampered with the lorries. Then, suddenly a huge stream of white-hot lava poured out of the tipping wagons over the steep slope of the black slag heap. The reflection of the embers was lost in the vastness of the dark sky. In frosty and windless weather, the bursting and cracking of the dying embers could be heard all the way into our living room. After a few minutes, the cooling lava resembled a scabbed wound, under whose cracks the new young skin gleamed pink. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

💡 Do you have a Linkedin account? Then you can subscribe to my newsletter „The Bright Side of the Doom“ ✔︎