What You Need To Know About Kerwe in Germany

If there’s a word that I love hearing in German, it’s “Kerwe.” Our village just recently finished celebrating another Kerwe this year, and it was almost a weeklong celebration that always brings a smile to my face. What’s Kerwe, you ask? Simply put, it’s a German festival. Kerwe is a time for celebrating, and the Germans know how to celebrate well. Here’s what you need to know about Kerwe in Germany.

Kerwe

First, let’s delve into what the German word Kerwe means. Kerwe, pronounced “care-vay,” is a time for festivals, especially among the villages. It derives from the Medieval word Kirchweih, meaning a religious fair/fest. It’s when the villages/towns come together to celebrate all the good things that has happened in the current year.

Things to Know About a Village Kerwe

In Germany, small villages have their own festivals during Fest Season. However, regions may differ in celebrations, but it all means the same: just celebrating all the good things the year has brought. For this blog post, I’ll be sharing my village’s Kerwe in the Rhineland Pfalz region, based on my understanding and research, along with facts from my local neighbors. Without further ado, here are some things to know about the village Kerwe.

↠ From Thursday to Monday (sometimes maybe even longer), in August for one week, our village throws several awesome festival celebrations in the Stadtplatz (aka the city center) that can last all night to the wee hours of the morning.

↠ Each village & city has its own Kerwe and may celebrate in their own way. For the most part, in Rheinland Pfalz, the fests typically are the same and held right about the same time each year.

↠ From my understanding, it’s the villages’ way of celebrating another good year before the Holidays begin.

↠ Kerwe also celebrates the coming of age/bridging of adulthood of the local young men and women (Straußjugend), finally old enough to drink at 16 years old.

↠ A “kerwestrauß” is also hung up to hang in the village all year round. The kerwestrauß, pronounced “care- vay- strauss,” is a large pole made of a thousand different color paper cutting that has been put together all year by these same young village folks and finally hung up on one of the fest days. To me, it looks like a huge feather duster once complete.

The process to make this paper mache-looking pole begins around May, with some drinking in between the process, and is finished right as the fest season begins in August. During the Kerwe celebration, a day is chosen (usually on a Sunday of the Kerwe week) to hang this pole in the local Gasthaus. After the Kerwestrauss is put in place, a spokesman for the town’s Straußjugend, or “Kerweburschen“, stands on a ladder and gives a speech poking fun/or roasting village residents for anything funny that had happened throughout the year while the entire village listens and laughs.

↠ These young village folks (the Straußjugend) are also responsible for protecting the kerwestrauß from the nearby villages from stealing them.

Kerwe is one of the highlights of all the villages! Some of the locals take time off during this time because the party goes on late into the evening, and most often in the early morning. Sometimes, we can still hear singing and dancing from our balcony as early as when we wake up, as we live up a hill in our village. Like I said, the Germans know how to party.

↠ At the Kerwe, there are lots of fest food, such as crepes, bratwursts, pommes, beer, wine, and more. Small carnival rides are set up in the city center, along with fests games. Bands are invited to perform for the weekend. But don’t worry, not all songs are in German; there are many classic American songs performed that lots of Germans sing to, so there are lots of singing and dancing. It’s quite fun!

Final Thoughts

Kerwe is always a fun time! It marks the start of the Fest Season for our village and is always a great way to celebrate the end of Summer. It’s also a fun way to celebrate Fest season with neighbors and locals in the village and a time for coming together. If you have been to a Kerwe, leave a comment below. Let me know how your experience was and if I’ve missed anything in my post. Until next time, friends! Bis zum nächsten Mal Freunde!

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2 thoughts on “What You Need To Know About Kerwe in Germany”

  1. Kerwe is the best! When I lived in Rhineland Platz I’m pretty sure I made it to one every weekend from Aug- Sept. My favorite part is one you didn’t mention, the traditional kafe and kuchen on Sunday after church followed by a sing along! So fun!

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I love hearing other people’s experiences during Kerwe 🙂 That sounds like that was an amazing time!

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