Here’s a lot of fun packed into one afternoon and evening – the annual German Festival which takes place at Elandskraal on the first Saturday of every June. All in aid of charity, here you will find every imaginable German delight, in order of (my) importance: Gluwein, tall draughts of beer, homemade bread, top quality meat, sauerkraut and baked treats of every kind. There is a queue as long as the field of brightly coloured cooler boxes, strategically marking one’s position to buy fresh meat of the highest standard and cheapest price. “O ja,” tells one man I encounter “I come from far and buy meat for the whole year.”
There are handmade crafts, beautifully stitched bags and cushions. The loud, cheerful Oompa band music will elevate your mood even further.
In the evening there are braai fires in every space, around which old friends and new gather to sample their wares. One family I meet says they have been coming to this festival since they were children and now it has become an annual reunion tradition amongst their friends. I am touched that they none-the-less invite me to join their warm circle.
A central pyre, a pyramid of logs, is lit as dusk falls. And as you think things cannot get any better, a procession of children of all heights walk, ever so seriously and innocently past, with lit lanterns, to the sweetest German songs.
I sit back and watch the festivities – people greeting one another enthusiastically, intensely debating which delicacies to sample next and drinking their beer and Gluwein. I realise what innocent pleasures these are – age-old traditions of appreciating the best of others’ food and drink and celebrating a culture. Those I might not be able to claim these as “my people”, I suddenly feel fiercely protective over this group of people. In a world of fast-paced technology, increasing disconnection, ever darker series’ on television, news of disasters, global corruption and acculturation, right now this seems like a very important occasion – a protection of all our innocence and connection on behalf of every culture and all humanity.
I know very little German, but I whisper a fervent blessing on each child that passes, praying that they may hold this memory of all that is good and innocent and delightful and that they may one day take pleasure in bringing their own children to continue this tradition.