A few weeks before Easter, German of the “Kurpfalz” and the area around it such as the Neckar Valley, celebrate another Spring event. It is called “Sommertagszug”, that I freely translated here “summer day parade”.
This special event, the Sommertagszug, is celebrated about three weeks before Easter (the exact date may vary from one town to another due to local traditions), on the Laetare Sunday (Sonntag Laetare), also called Mid-Lent (Mittfasten, or in French, la mi-carême), in the south-west provinces of Germany. It is a Frühlingfest (a Spring party) to welcome summer and tell winter that its time has come and it must go away.
A Zug (train-parade) made of lots of kids costumed as little ducklings wearing yellow rain jacket and duck’s head as hats parades in town holding big Bretzels placed at the tip of sticks decorated with multicolour ribbons. Some of these big Bretzels have a cooked egg in the middle.
There is also, pulled along by some happy men and boys wearing costumes, a snowman standing on a dried up tree made of straw representing old winter. And further along, on a green tree decorated with vividly coloured eggs garlands, we can see a rooster and a crane representing spring and summer. During the parade, the kids are signing a song telling winter to go, that summer is here.
At the end of the parade, the winter tree and the snowman are burned in a big bonfire with everyone standing around it and happily singing that winter is dead, we have been delivered from death and “Strih, Strah, Stroh, Der Sommerdag is do” (summer day is here).