When Men Spin Out of Control in Germany
About a year ago, to my surprise, I found out that I am a German Men’s Day fanatic.
Stirred up by the sound of men singing in the morning hours, I walked up to the wide window frame in our city apartment and with curiosity I eyed a wagon slowly moving along the main street, with the appearance that it was handcrafted. The centerpiece reminded me of a Bavarian beer garden: A rickety, long beer table with two equally shaky benches on each side made the center piece. All had been raised on a wooden platform with wheels which were put into movement with pedals similar to a bicycle. Besides that, the wagon was decorated with colorful pennants and flags that were fluttering in the early morning wind. The pedaling passengers were equally dressed-up wearing cowboy and Viking hats and multiple long necklaces with plastic pearls or Hawaiian flowers that reached down to their –more or less showing- beer bellies. I counted ten glasses of beer and ten men who were singing –Which would later probably turn into lulling. – along to the music that was blasting from a giant speaker at the end of the table. As fast as the group appeared, it disappeared out of my sight again.
About five more followed that day, all differently decorated, yet alike in their setup and always loaded with beer, which flowed like water. In town, I encountered large groups of boys and men –sometimes up to 30! – that had made their way on their bike and were just passing through town or resting in a local cafe. And I just couldn’t help myself but to wonder how many men actually lived in the city as they rolled over it like a wave.
Something in my fingers itched that day. I wanted to be a part of this as the ,,Maennertag” or ,,Herrentag” (The German way of saying Men’s Day.) combines elements that I love: spending time with friends, being outside and being active. Over the past couple of years, Men’s Day has lost its status of being exclusively a holiday for men turning it more into a family and friends day.
Be warned: Eastern Germany, in particular, takes this holiday deeply to its roots.
In the sense of sharing this holiday with you and preparing you for the ultimate Men’s Day shenanigans, I put together an elemental checklist for you!
- Friends: Because good friends never let you do stupid things … alone.
- Choose your vehicle: Bike, Motorbike, Car? In general, there are no limits as long as you are on the roll! Tractors, wagons, carriages; I have seen it all. Any vehicle that gets you and your group outdoors, goes. Yet, the most traditional way to get places is probably by bike.
- Tour and Stops: Where ever your tour takes you, be outside in nature. It could be your local park, a national park or the area around town. Also, there is no need to rush. Take many stops. Maybe pick a spot by the lake or a Biergarten.
- Beer, beer and beer: You don’t need the Octoberfest to make German traditions come to life! For days, most men stock up their liquid supply for the holiday. You might want to put a card on the back of your bike to transport your haul. If you are walking, a handcart will also do the trick.
(Since I am not a big beer enthusiast, I would definitely go with Root Beer this year.)
- Costumes and gadgets: Beer helmet, beer holder belt, Viking helmets, print t-shirts. Apparently, a friend of mine is dressing up like a red Duff beer bottle. The sky is the limit.
- Music: What’s an adventure without the fitting soundtrack? Definitely bring your music. Hopefully everyone knows the lyrics, so they can sing along.
- Challenges and games: Give your ride some edge! And turn your tour into more than a ride with booze and blasting music. During breaks, play (drinking) games, bring a frisbee or cards, maybe set yourself a challenge. –Whatever floats your boat. I have seen groups that like to race each other carrying rocks or take a picture at the sign of every town’s name that they come across. What will make your tour unique?
- Barbeque and Bonfire
I have already circled May 10th in my calendar for this year and my bike is patiently waiting for me. Last year, a young man licked my arm as we were biking past each other. Let’s see what happens this year… It’s time to get this party started!