Winter Lore 05 – Federschleißen

Federschleißen or stripping feathers, was accompanied by a special tradition in my village. My Mom still remembers sitting under the table while the village elders (women) all gathered around it, to help stripping the feathers. For this occasion coffee (of course coffee Saxons are well known for their vast intake of coffee) and cake would be served and the women would exchange lore, stories from the past year and decide who in the village has the Kuppelchen.

It would not be a magical, mystical series if gossiping and stripping feathers would be all. There were rules applied:

1. The master of the house had to strip the first seven feathers, before the women could even touch them.

This was to keep the Alp away, yes we have the same word in German for the cause of nightmares, only that in German nightmares subsequently are called – Alptraum (litterally: alp dream) or in Saxon the Alp Drücken (literally: Alp Pressure) . So when I asked Mom about the reason for Granddad having to strip the first seven feathers all she remembered it was so the feather beds wouldn’t put pressure on the sleeper. Inquiring more in detail with granny she just in best Saxonian dialect said: So that’s not giving you the pressure (das Drücken) the Alp, you know.

2. Feathers may only be addressed with formal designation.

In German we differentiate between formal and informal designation of people, the common You in English would equal Du in German for friends and acquaintances, while Sie is used for strangers or superiors. So granny and Mom said address the feather always only with Sie, should you happen to talk to them, else bad luck will fall upon the house.

The women would move from house to house, until everyone who needed had their feathers stripped and ready to make new bedding. I am still in the process of unveiling some of the stories told during the Federschleißen, unfortunately the people involved are whether too old now or were too young then to remember, but I am working on it.

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