Monday, June 04, 2007


Last week Wildeshausen held its annual, week long Gildefest, a celebration put on by the Wildeshausen Schuetzengilde . The Gilde was founded in 1403 in order to train young men to protect the city. With the emergence of firearms, the shooting contest became a central feature of the festival. The winner of the shooting contest is crowned the “Schützenköning.” I am not sure what the “king” does other than buy everyone drinks.

Only men are allowed to be members of the Gilde. Women are strictly forbidden. During the week, members of the Gilde patrol the streets to maintain law and order. You could be, for example, arrested for carrying an umbrella and then paraded through the streets. Don’t worry. For 10 Euros you can buy back your freedom.

On Tuesday all the members of the Gilde dress up and march from the center of town to the Gildeplatz, which is where the shooting contest takes place. Members must wear a black tuxedo and top hat and carry their “weapons.” (Note that the weapons are wooden guns that don’t actually shoot). As I watched them march last week, I wondered whether or not the Gilde could live up to its original purpose (i.e. protecting the city).

The German is not a member of the Gilde however, I am encouraging it. It is very amusing to watch 2000 drunken men march in a straight line. As you can see, we celebrated a bit with the neighbors. Maybe next year the German will have his top hat on.


PapaScott said...

If a Gildefest is anything like a Schützenfest in our part of Lower Saxony, you certainly do not want the German to take any part of it. The cost of being the Schützenkönig can run to 5 digits... yes, all he does is buy everyone drinks, but he has to do it for an entire year!

Anonymous said...

At the risk of offending Gloria Steinem, that is a festival that I can get behind. I'm smelling a future youtube video in the making....

christina said...

Heee. Yeah, a guy who lives in our street ends up being Schützenkönig most years so they all parade by our house to his house and back again after they pick him up. He and his wife (women are allowed in our Schützenverein) arrive back later in the evening drunk as skunks and barely able to walk. It's really funny to watch.

C N Heidelberg said...

That sounds really cool!
Except for the part about getting arrested. I'm pretty sure I'd never leave my apartment for fear that my bad German language skills would make such an encounter a complete nightmare and unfortunately not funny like it should be.