Friday, August 24, 2012

Bartlmäh: the heyday of traditional celebrations on Ritten

After the 15th of August, the Kirchtag in Oberbozen, the 24th is another red marked day in the traditional party season here. I'd even say marked in all rainbow colors, blinking and with glitter as "Bartlmäh" is the biggest and most popular outdoor Dirndl or Lederhosen event in the area.

Historical background

The day, the animals were brought down from the alpine pastures where they spent the hot summer time, has always been a big celebration day. Not only had the lonely life of the herdmen, far away from family and friends on the mountain pastures an end, but of course all the peasants came to check on their animals and bring them home.

Shocking but true, this reunion of the sheperds, encounter of all farmers around and symbol for the nearing end of the summer turned into a cheerful celebration. Cattle, horses and other farm animals were traded, merchants offered their goods, everbody enjoyed food and drinks and the corner stone for marriages or the one or other scandal was laid.

On Ritten this "Almabtrieb", the day the livestock is chased down from the alpine pastures, falls on the 24th of August, the day of Saint Bartholomäus. And there we find the reason for the strange name, in the German dialect spoken around here, the holy man's name sounds like "Bartlma" or Bartlmäh".

And today?

Nowadays people in the area still pilgrimage up the alpine grassland. Not because many of them are interested in checking on their cows' health condition. Or because many would even touch a cow willingly. But because it's a big party with lots of good food and even more good beer. Cattle and Haflinger horses are still chased down into another and lower pasture, traditional music bands play and Alphorns' tooting is heard in the summerwind, accompanied by the rhythmical snapping of the whips.

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