FALL FESTIVALS--by Sophia Sasson
I love Fall for all the wonderful festivals that start. Last year, I was in Munich, Germany; where Oktoberfest is serious business. The entire town was dressed in lederhosen and dirndls; the air smelled of beer and Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies); and maddening crowds from all over the world filled the streets. It was quite an experience.
Most people know about the beer tents at Oktoberfest. What you might not appreciate is they are enormous buildings. Thousands of people crowd into tables and chairs or benches in one of these “tents”. These structures made of wood beams and fancy decorations are actually temporary, made just for Oktoberfest each year. The crowd is often singing songs, dancing to music (on their tabletop or bench), and of course drinking lots of beer.
What do the beer mugs look like? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Note: It’s considered a crime to steal of one of these krugs from a beer hall, and since the burly security guards are a scary deterrent, a successful heist is celebrated in the streets.
While riding on the subway or walking about town, you’ll see people dressed in traditional lederhosen, short or knee length leather breeches worn with a shirt or jacket. The longer versions are actually called Bundhosen. Women wear a dirndl, an aproned dress over a blouse. You can make out the tourists from the Germans by looking at the quality of their traditional clothes. Lederhosen and drindl’s cost anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars and you can see the difference in the quality of material, and detailing in the embroidery, buttons or other accents. I heard that such traditional clothing is often passed down generations, particularly children’s clothes.
One item I’ve never seen at my local Oktoberfest, is a Lebkuchen which are seen all over the city. These are gingerbread hearts spiced with cinnamon and anise and all kinds of spices with messages like Ich Liebe Dich (I love you). They come with a string attached to wear. You’re supposed to buy one for your sweetheart. Mine didn’t last long enough to wear, who wants to smell a ginger cookie and not eat it?
My favorite memory at Oktoberfest is walking into a tent full of highly inebriated Germans singing “country road.” I’ve never heard it sung with a German accent before. I asked one singer’s why he liked the song but he didn’t speak English.
Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, when I began writing my heartwarming short story for Harlequin’s thanksgiving promotion, I really wanted it to be about small town traditions. My own little community has a wonderful Fall festival every year where there’s hay rides, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting. So I researched other Fall traditions and of course everyone knows about Oktoberfest but did you know about turkey hunting? It used to be quite a sport in the Spring and Fall, and is still somewhat popular. While we think of turkey’s in the Fall, the Spring hunting season brings out quite the strut in tom’s (male turkey’s) who gobble loudly looking for their love mate. While some hunters work on perfecting their hunting call to attract the birds, others count on their aim to snag a bird.
So I thought, what if a city girl goes to meet her boyfriend’s family expecting a marriage proposal, and instead gets roped into a turkey hunt. To find out what happens, read the short story (Falling for the Cowboy) that’ll be a free online read on November 11th as part of the Heartwarming thanksgiving promotion (more coming on that).
The short story and my first heartwarming book, First Comes Marriage is set in the town of Bellhaven, which the town’s people call Hell’s Bells (to know why, you’ll have to read my First Comes Marriage, now available for preorder on Amazon) is a quirky, quaint small town with traditions like turkey hunts and Bull Blazin festivals. To find out more about the short story or book, visit my website or sign up for my newsletter.
So tell me, what are some of your favorite Fall festivals?