There are many reasons why a witch just has to be burnt, and yes, it still happens in our day and age. We were quite excited and did not want to miss this blazing opportunity so we brrr…braved the night cold and marched along with our neighbours and many other townspeople up to the fields near our house. We were heading for the tower, a very big and high pile of dead wood, which had taken a day or two to put together. The moon was full and the witch tied to the stake at the top of the wooden tower must have been casting her last spell. She was now ready to burn! The children from the voluntary fire brigade all fired up their torches and, as we all looked on, set the giant heap on fire.
There’s something mesmerising about flickering flames and it gets even more hypnotic as the fire grows, not so? This is one of the oldest annual traditions typical to our area and no, the witch is not a real live person. Duh-uh! In fact our witch looked more like a male scarecrow wanting to hug the moon hee…heee. It is also not celebrated everywhere in Germany and there are two versions of this custom, called the “Funkenfeuer”. The one that seems most popular is that it is a relict from an old Germanic-Pagan custom to drive the winter right outta here! Like, like, LIKE especially when standing in a cold field and feeling the heat eminating from the fire, hoping it stays this warm…like please…forever. Some-one does not like winter 🌞🌞 The others see it as a ritual between the ending of the Shrovetide (carnival) and the beginning of the long fasting period before Easter. This or that, it’s a lovely tradition which brings us all together even though we know that the winter can sometimes last longer than your Easter eggs. The “Funkenfeuer” in our area is also always on the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday. Other areas do this on the Sunday.
A fire this size takes very long to burn. L.O.N.G. We stay put, with our eyes on the witch scarecrow thingy. It is sort of goose-bumpy seeing it slowly tilt towards the ground and threatening to fall down in one whole piece. Nooo! Stay up! Stay up! Yeah, a couple of crazies around here. You see, it’s seen as a bad omen if the witch scarecrow thingy falls down before exploding or burning out completely. Plopps! Well, our one did fall but they pushed it right back into the fire. Burn, baby, burn! See, no problem. Bye-bye bad omen. Hello Spring. Phew! Give me a beer 🍺