03 August 2010
Posted in Life's Style
A blue sky and 25 degrees, so what more can we want for our family wedding. We have gathered in the middle Rhine town of Linz am Rhine, which sits between the cities of Bonn and Koblenz. This small town boosts colour. Half-timbered buildings-- some are standing quite crooked with crafted roof beams that are held together by a mere wooden peg. Some houses go back in age; as far as five centuries. Just imagine an illustration in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale book, and this thought will take you to this small, water edged town.
In the markt platz (market square), women line-up with their heart shaped balloons. Opposite, the men line-up with their plain white balloons--felt, pointy, drinking hats are being worn as an indication that they are ready to party! The balloons are then collected by the newly weds before they are released into "the blue yonder" It is like another form of confetti throwing, and this creates some light entertainment for all while all eyes are now engaged on these... spotted dots-- in our cranked neck positions. At a wedding of close friends near Cologne; their balloons were attached to postcards with their address on it . It was later told to us, that the bridal couple had received one of the postcards from a women in Hungry. At the time of hearing this, I had wondered if a helium balloon could possibly make its way across Germany..."this can't be right," or, was the Hungarian women travelling through Germany at the time of finding the card. I still occasionally ponder at this thought. The timing couldn't have been better, as we are now being served apple and cheese rounds and a glass of Sekt (champaign) to wash them down with.
The wedding party is being hosted in the smaller neighbouring town of Ohlenberg-- this is the town where my husband and the groom spent their lederhosen (not only for Bavarians) childhood days. What makes this party setting so authentically country looking apart from being surrounded by rolling hills, are the solid, outdoor tables and benches; on them sit the folks in their Landhaus kleid (country dress), drinking a cold Kölsch beer and displaying their Rhenish cheer.
In a Karlsruhe beer garden, I only drink beer a few times throughout the summer. My 0.4 liter beer usually turns into a hot bath before I get to finish drinking it. The less bitter, yellow coloured, and Cologne' own brewed Kölsch beer "a cool blond" as my brother-in-law calls it; I much prefer. The test tube shape, 0.2 liter glass, stays cooler for longer with me-- merely because I can drink this volume a little quicker. At the wedding party, a Körbes is distributing the cold beers in a ten-hole tray and wearing his traditional long blue apron. He stops to engage the microphone from the groom, then proceeds into the story about how the name Körbes came about for the beer servers: the name stems from Jakobus from the Spanish town of Santiago de Campostela, to where these young men would take the Christian pilgrimage route to take on Spain. During their travels, they would seek temporary work in the city of Cologne, and as it was difficult for the locals to remember the new bar tenders names; they would opt for calling the young lads a Körbes. In Cologne pubs, a Körbes is known for their experience in prompt service by distributing Kölsch beer to their patrons. Their witty, dry and sometimes abrupt humour is often displayed.
"Would you like some more cake?" is what I hear quite often when visiting my in-laws. In German country towns, the people love their Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee & cake) at the 4 p.m. time slot. On this day all remains the same, except there is a bigger selection of homemade cakes with the scrumptious Bienenstich (honey sting) and Linzertorte (jam tart), just to name a couple. The crafted, three-tier wedding cake will be eaten along with the other homemade cakes--unlike at an Australian wedding; the wedding cake is distributed after the main course. The buffet arrives in the early evening, with the right selection for this warm weather: a fresh display of smoked salmon; a variety of white fish; seasonal white asparagus with an hollandaise sauce and a variety of cucumber and bean salads.
A German wedding can often turn into a festival when not watched carefully. A wedding events coordinator is selected, just to ensure that the party activities stay within a time frame. The groom's former carnival group, "the men's ballet" have shown up to provide us with some crazy entertainment. This fifteen member group has coordinated (and sometimes not) a "Knees-up" show. They are dressed in glitter, wigs and colourful make-up. There is a pause in the act because their make-up is running and the Körbes has come to their rescue!