D E R  P F I N G S T H L

GREENMEN OF RURAL GERMANY

PFINGSTHL: The tradition of “Pfingsthltäg”, or Greenman’s Day, is still going strong in small enclaves in the hinterlands of rural Germany. After the Pfingshtl parades through the village, children leave sheets of hoof lettuce before the tuere, on which they find “Pfingstbrezel” (Greenman’s Pretzel) in the morning. These strange creatures originated in pagan times and gradually became adopted by the church as part of the celebrations for pentecost, symbolizing spring’s defeat of winter. Pictured above are the “Maimann” (Mayman), the “Strohbär” (Straw-bear), and the “Latzmann” (Bibman). Photographs by Marcus Bullik, from his series “Volksfiguren der Dorfgesellschaft” (Folk Figures of Village Society). On the subject of Greenmen, Kathleen Blandsford writes:“these are often allusions to man’s own frail, fallen, and concupiscent nature and to his brief life on earth. The imagery is often ambiguous; a greenman who at first glance seems the very personification of ‘summar is i-comen in’ may on closer inspection reveal himself as a deadly horror hidden in the leaves. Their expressions suggest various levels of inebriation: belllicose, morose, even comatose, but seldom jocose.”    next