Sommertagszug – oder der brennende Schneemann

On a recent trip to Germany I stumbled across an unusual festival in the small town of Weinheim, Baden-Württemberg.  The “Sommertagszug” is celebrated every year on the Sunday in the middle of Lent, and aims to banish winter and welcome in the spring.  Amongst the more familiar symbols of spring, such as eggs, the afternoon’s events also featured the burning of a large snowman…

Weinheim3Wir sind alle froh, wenn die Tage länger werden und die Osterglocken und Schneeglöckchen ihre Gesichter zeigen.  Aber in der kleinen Stadt von Weinheim wird der Anfang des Frühlings wirklich gefeiert – in Form des Sommertagszuges.  Alljährlich am Sonntag Laetare (dem Sonntag in der Mitte der Fastenzeit) – dieses Jahr war es 6. März – feiern Weinheims Kinder den Einzug des Frühlings.  Natürlich feiern auch viele Erwachsenen mit.

Der Sommertagszug ist ein uraltes Frühlingsfest, dessen Ursprung bis in die vorchristliche Zeit zurück reicht.  Heute kann es bis zu 3.000 Zugteilnehmer geben, hauptsächlich Schüler und Kinder aus den lokalen Kindergärten.  Die Teilnehmer tragen Stecken (lange, geschmückte Stäbe), die als Ausdruck der Freude gelten.  Oben auf diesen Stecken gibt es oft eine Bretzel – Symbol der Sonne – oder ein Ei – Symbol des Lebens und der Fruchtbarkeit.

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Ein grauer ‘Sommertag’ in Weinheim!

Am Ende des Festzugs versammeln sich alle Teilnehmer und andere Bewohner der Stadt auf dem Marktplatz.  Dort spielen Musikvereine auf dem Balkon des Rathauses, während die letzten Vorbereitungen auf den Höhepunkt des Festes gemacht werden… die Verbrennung des großen Schneemanns!  So pervers das auch klingen mag, bedeutet diese Verbrennung der endgültige Sieg des Frühlings über den Winter.

Allerdings muss ich zugestehen, dass Sonntag 6. März ein kalter, regnerischer Tag war – wirklich kein Vorgeschmack auf Frühling…

Falls du nächstes Jahr mitmachen möchtest, feiern die Weinheimer den Sommertagszug 2017 am 26. März!

 Nicola Deboys, OGN Coordinator

Deutscher Autor Benedict Wells bei uns in Oxford

During a recent trip to the UK acclaimed German author Benedict Wells stopped off in Oxford and OGN and our local partner school St Edward’s seized the chance to hear him speak.  OGN Graduate Ambassador Ben Schaper, who organised Benedict’s trip, tells us more:

Benedict Wells war bis vor kurzem der jüngste Autor in der Geschichte des renommierten Schweizer Diogenes Verlags. Mit 23 Jahren veröffentlichte er 2008 seinen Debütroman Becks letzter Sommer, der im Sommer 2015 mit Christian Ulmen als Lehrer Robert Beck ins Kino kam. 2009 reichte der Verlag dann Wells’ eigentlichen Erstling Spinner nach, ehe Wells 2011 mit Fast genial ein erster großer Publikumserfolg gelang. Der Roman wurde zudem vom Hamburger Altoaer Theater für die Bühne adaptiert, Wells selbst vor wenigen Monate eine Drehbuchfassung des Romans fertig. Durch den Erfolg von Fast genial gewann Wells die Zeit, die er benötigte, um sein bislang ambitioniertestes Werk, den Roman Vom Ende der Einsamkeit, fertigzustellen. Mehr als sieben Jahre lang arbeitete er an dem vierzig Jahre umspannenden Familienepos, das im Februar 2016 erschien und im Moment auf Platz 3 der Spiegel-Bestsellerliste steht.

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Benedict Wells (rechts im Bild) beantwortet die Fragen der SchülerInnen

Kurz vor Weihnachten beschloss Wells nach Lesungen am Magdalen College Cambridge und an der Queen Mary University of London eine Englandreise in Oxford. Im Rahmen seines Besuchs gab er einen Autorschaftsworkshop für Undergraduates und Graduates, gab eine öffentliche Vorlesung und konnte vom Oxford German Network dazu gewonnen werden, die Deutschschüler in unserer Partnerschule St Edward’s zu besuchen. Wells las vor Sixthform-Schülern und ihren Lehrern aus Fast genial. Anschließend konnten die Schüler Benedict Fragen zum Roman und zum Schreiben an sich stellen, die er amüsant und für die Schüler ansprechend beantwortete. So wurde es ein interessanter und unterhaltsamer Nachmittag in St Edward’s, der auch Benedict als ehemaligem Internatsschüler aufschlussreiche Einblicke in das britische Schulsystem eröffnete.

 

                                                                                                                        Ben Schaper

OGN Graduate Ambassador

From the spires of Oxford to the sights and sounds of Southern Germany

Taking part in a German exchange is a fantastic way to experience everyday life in one of the German-speaking countries, and of course to put the language skills learnt in the classroom into practice. Mukahang Limbu (pictured), a Year 10 pupil studying German at Oxford Spires Academy tells us more about the school’s exchange with the Herman-Staudinger-Gymnasium in Erlenbach near Aschaffenburg, Germany.

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Mukahang in Erlenbach!

In October Miss Constantine and Mr Fanchi took nine students from Years 10 and 11 to stay with German families by themselves and make friends with their German exchange partners. It was a very valuable experience for the students as they were able not only to improve their German dramatically, but also immerse themselves into the family life of their exchange partners and rely on themselves completely. As a result these students came back to England one head taller and rightly so.

The group visited the town close by – Aschaffenburg – where they learnt about the history of the place and they took part in lots of activities like bowling, pool, cooking and having a meal out together. Each family arranged individual activities with the students so that every one of them has a different story to tell. They also visited the school and took part in lessons. The exchange took place over 4 days, which as it turns out, was much too short, as all students wanted to stay longer. Maybe next year we can extend the exchange! We are already really looking forward to having the German students stay with us in June 2016.

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Aschaffenburg market square
The most rewarding aspect for me would have to be, that I was able to use my own previous knowledge of the language to communicate and forge new relationships; this gave me a chance to not only utilise what I have already learned, in real-life situations, but also allowed me to expand my ability, by learning from our student exchange partners. You cannot hope to learn a language, without applying it in practice! To truly learn a language, a person must experience the culture and diversity that comes with the ‘foreign tongue’, and only when that happens, is a person’s ears truly open to all the flavour of the sounds, the frequency of the tones, and the richness in the dialogue, which as a result causes us to learn and understand more than before, because the more we hear, the more we get accustomed to the riffs and tunes, and so the less ‘foreign’ the language becomes!

Charlie Parker, also in Year 10, said: ‘The German exchange was fun and very interesting. I had great fun learning what they do on a daily basis compared to us in England. I would recommend it to everyone and I wish we could have been there longer.’

                                                                                            Mukahang Limbu, Year 10

Oxford Spires Academy

Brigitte magazine – a history of the book phenomenon!

For me and perhaps many of you too, Brigitte is a magazine hastily grabbed at an airport or train station to flick through during a trip to Germany. It is glossy, glamorous without being aloof, and genuinely seems interested in the lives of its readers – with sister publications targetting a variety of groups and age ranges: from Brigitte Young Miss to Brigitte MOM and Brigitte Balance to the only recently launched Brigitte Wir. According to recent statistics Brigitte is the overall market leader amongst quality fortnightlies for women in Germany. That’s no mean feat in an increasingly saturated marketplace. But what does this have to do with ‘History of the Book’? – Surely Brigitte, as a modern magazine, has no place in a field which traditionally focuses on manuscripts and marginalia?

Absolutely not! As part of a recent project I have been studying advice texts for women from the seventeenth century to the present – with ‘the present’ represented by Brigitte, in particular its online version. The other texts in my study are Georg Philipp Harsdörffer’s Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiele (1641-9); Johann Christoph Gottsched’s Die vernünftigen Tadlerinnen (1725-6) and Sophie von La Roche’s Pomona (1783-4). But for now, let’s focus on Brigitte. Despite its apparent modernity, Brigitte’s success is an enduring phenomenon, stretching back into the nineteenth century.

The magazine now called Brigitte began life as the weekly Dies Blatt gehört der Hausfrau in 1886. The early magazine featured serialised novels, poems, advice about the home, garden and health, alongside travel tips, historical and scientific articles, and even sewing patterns. By 1894 the print run had reached 85,000. From 1952 “Blatt der Hausfrau” was prefixed with “Brigitte” and finally in May 1954 the title became simply Brigitte. By 1954 it appeared fortnightly, cost 65 Pfennig and around 177,000 copies were sold per issue, reaching 970,000 women.

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From this…

And since then the magazine seems to have gone from strength to strength, developing spin-offs focussing on different age groups or hobbies, and putting increasing emphasis on digital content. For my project, which focussed in particular on the relationship between author and audience, Brigitte’s ‘Stimmen’ campaign really struck a chord. ‘Stimmen’ presents real articles written by real women.   This is articulated in the slogan “Hier kommt ihr zu Wort!” Brigitte is currently searching for its next round of readers turned writers to share their “starke Stimmen”. The 200 or so Stimmen originally published display exactly this range in topic and tone. Apart from a very few where a cartoon image is used, each article is accompanied by a real photograph and short biography. Some tell very personal stories, such as “Ich trage kein Kopftuch mehr” or “Ich bin eine Transfrau”, while others engage with controversial issues and adopt the tone of an editorial or comment piece, for example “Warum ich gegen die Frauenquote bin”, “Helikopter-Eltern: Warum ihre Kinder später ein Problem haben” and “Frauen, ihr wollt mehr verdienen? Dann geht hin und fragt!”

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…to this!

In the context of my study, this campaign marks an interesting progression from early advice texts for women, which, since the seventeenth century, gradually attempted to build a relationship with their readers, whether through presenting female figures, projecting fictional female narrators, or encouraging readers to write in with their own contributions.

So on your next trip to Germany, as you grab a copy of Brigitte to read on your travels, you’ll know that there’s a lot more to this polished publication than meets the eye, and perhaps, if you take a look online you’ll encounter some ‘Stimmen’ that chime with your own experiences.

 

Nicola, OGN Coordinator

Drama auf Deutsch!

We’ve found that theatre is a fantastic way to make languages come alive and give pupils an experience of language-learning beyond the classroom. Two of OGN’s local partner schools recently joined up to give their pupils the opportunity to watch, and even take part in, a play created especially for learners of German.

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Hochdramatisch! Onatti actors at work.

In February Headington School again hosted the Onatti theatre company for its German play, Zwillinge (Twins). All pupils in U3 (Year 8) who are experiencing German as part of their 3 language carrousel this year, as well as all pupils taking German in the L4, U4 and L5 attended. Headington was also delighted to welcome pupils from Bartholomew School, Eynsham.

The hour-long comedy was a play within a play, where Annika, preparing for a drama performance, enlists the help of Lukas, but unwittingly also ends up rehearsing with his twin brother, leading to some hilarious scenes. As always, Onatti brought excellent acting, a funny script and some great slapstick comedy together to entertain the pupils, with, as usual, plenty of interaction with the audience and co-opting pupils as extra characters.

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Is it Lukas… or his brother?

Reactions to the play were highly complementary:

Bartholomew School: Our students really enjoyed the experience and loved the play. “I really enjoyed the performance and the actors were very funny. It was easy to understand too!”

Headington: I thought that the play was funny. It was also very understandable because they acted it out well. I felt like I knew most of the words.

The play was really funny, the idea of the topic of the play was a really good idea, the audience participation was funny and the actors were very good at acting. 

Has Onatti brought the play Zwillinge to your school? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!