Earlier this month I spent some time visiting my daughter in Heidelberg. May is a great time to visit Germany. Everything is in bloom, it’s spargel (asparagus) season, and it’s often warm and sunny.
May is also the most popular month for weddings, for reasons unknown to me. (Americans prefer June — why?) Germans do not go in for big blowout Bridezilla weddings, the way Americans do. The ceremony takes places in a civic office and is quite uninteresting and staid. All the celebrations take place before hand, in a series of bachelor or bachelorette parties. These, my daughter informs me, can become quite elaborate, involving costumes or at the minimum custom tee shirts — we saw several of these parties, in matching tees. They also always involve heavy drinking.
We discovered this last when we took a ride on a boat from Heidelberg up the Neckar river. This excursion does not involve castles or vineyards so much — the Rhine river is the place for that — but you get a fine vista of the ancient glories of old Heidelberg, and pass through a couple sets of working locks, which is very interesting.
The terminus of the ride is at one of the small river towns on the Neckar, and at this stop a party of perhaps 20 youngish men reeled on board. Evidently they had gone upstream for a large liquid lunch — an all day festivity, on a work day! — and were now about ready to come back downstream to the big city and continue the party there. They had their matching tee shirts, and were sufficiently incoherent that only at the last minute did it occur to somebody that they had to have tickets for the ferry.
Once aboard someone commandeered the boat’s PA system, and read aloud a long, long poem, with sound effects and giggling. It should be noted that neither I nor my husband speak German, but there were enough mentions of a “Danielle” that I hope she is the bride. Then they passed around song sheets and sang. I carried my song sheet away and passed it to Mary Osmanski, high school German instructor. She tells me it is actually the Badnerlied, a well known song in praise of the province of Baden. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badnerlied
German ferries have food and beverage service, so by the time we got back downstream to Heidelberg the party had sunk several more rounds of beer. We all got off, but there seemed to be some doubt about their negotiating the gangplank. As long as nobody fell into the Neckar the wedding may have taken place by now!