Lightfooted in Lederhosen

High Fashion Lederhosen from Peter Hahn
High Fashion Lederhosen from Peter Hahn

Go ahead. . .I know you want to laugh, to sneer, or to feel yourself superior to that poor sod who’s had a lapse of judgment (or an outrageous amount of beer) and decided to put on lederhosen.   The ill-conceived costume of Oktoberfest.

Well, idiot that I am, I LOVE lederhosen!   So far, I’ve resisted the urge to buy any dirndl or lederhosen for myself or my husband…actually, I’ve resisted with the gentle coaching (scolding?) of family and friends.  “What are you thinking?”  “You’d really wear THAT?”  The ever popular, “BAAAAAD idea.”  (But the  inner voice that says, “You know, your cleavage would look awesome!” keeps my heart in the game.)

And, now that Oktoberfest is upon us, it’s open season for leaderhosen in Germany.

So what are  lederhosen and dirndl and when/why/how did they become traditional?  You’ve always wondered, haven’t you?  Just been waiting and hoping that someone would bring you the story.   Well, wait no more–I’m your girl.

Some outlet Lederhosen
Some outlet Lederhosen from Lidl

Here’s my five cent version of the history of lederhosen:

Lederhosen (for men) and Dirndl (for women) are both called Tracht.  “Tracht” derives from the word “tragen” which means “to wear.”  Very practical origin, right?  Well, that gives you a hint about the clothing’s past.

A photo of Bavarian Trachten from Pintrest
A photo of Bavarian Trachten from Pintrest

Tracht originated in the southern area of Germany and Austria.  This sort of clothing (especially the leather pants)  was associated with the working class/peasant community, and it seems to have grown out of 18th century traditional clothing.  It was, above all else, very sturdy and practical garb–both for working and hunting.   It’s possible that this clothing, most often associated with Bavaria, was also influenced by French fashion.  Whether or not that’s true, it did take a “high brow” turn when it’s popularity rose and it became not just working clothing but fine, festival clothing, sometimes richly decorated and embroidered.  (But, not to worry, it can be had on any budget.  Mass produced Trachten can be found at discount stores, but some specialty stores sell very expensive, and very beautiful, outfits.)

Of course, the female version of Tracht, the Dirndl, isn’t characterized by leather pants.  It comes from the 18th century peasant’s or maid’s dress: it has a blouse, a bodice, a skirt, and an apron.  Winter dirndl would, obviously, have been heavier, and wouldn’t have featured the same (summer weight) tailored bodice and plunging neckline that has made St. Pauli Girl beer so famous in the USA!

I’ve read that some villages produce a regional Tracht that locals like to wear on festival days. It sounds like Tracht is to Germans what Tartan is to the Scots: a sign of cultural and regional (or clan) pride, as well as a festival costume.  And that makes me like it even more!  And no wonder that it may look silly to outsiders–anything that goes deep into your own personal, cultural psyche will ellude the grasp of the universal imagination. Roots that go deep don’t spread wide.

Despite my love of cultural costume, my husband is unlikely to wear a kilt or leather knee-britches anytime soon.  It’s just too hard of a sell.  I’m holding out some hope–based only on the fact that he’s recently taken to drinking good Scotch Whiskey. . . so some sort of cultural roots are beginning to grow.  Maybe a small sartorial concession will come. . . A Tweed jacket in his future?  A Bavarian wool jacket or a German gingham shirt?  ( A spirited Scot or a barmy Bavarian?  I’m not sure he’ll like these options–he’s more of a fanatical francophile.)

Well, regardless of who wins the wardrobe wars at my house,  I love lederhosen!   And, anyway, if it must be left to the Germans to carry that cultural torch themselves. . . I suppose that seems fitting.

Kilt from MacGregor and MacDuff Catalog
Kilt from MacGregor and MacDuff Catalog

 

Lederhosen from Fendt catalog
Lederhosen from Fendt catalog

 

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Bernkastel-Kues on the Mosel River– A Perfect Monday

 

Let’s file this one under “How to Play Hooky–European Style.”

It’s a school day.  It’s a work day.  It’s a Monday.  But with a little inspiration, you pack your kids off to school, your husband takes the day off of work, you scoop up a friend who is visiting from the States, and Day Trip!   The perfect destination needs beautiful scenery and good wine–so off to Bernkastel-Kues on the Mosel River and surrounded by vineyards.

Too bad every Monday can’t be like this.

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Armchair Travelers

We’ve got the virus du jour this week, so our weekend was dead and our week is only showing a hint of vital signs.  To boost our spirits–and maybe yours too–I’m posting some old and new travel/life abroad photos.

Hope you enjoy!

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Trier, Germany
Trier
Trier

 

Doune Castle, Scotland, 2007--location of Monty Python's Holy Grail scenes
Doune Castle, Scotland, 2007–location of Monty Python’s Holy Grail scenes

 

Edinburgh, Scotland  by night, Christmas 2007
Edinburgh, Scotland by night, Christmas 2007

 

Cappadocia, Turkey, 1998, near Guzelyurt...an old monestary in the foreground.
Cappadocia, Turkey, 1998, near Guzelyurt. . .an old monastary in the foreground.

 

A castle on the Turkish Mediterranean, 1998
A castle on the Turkish Mediterranean, 1998
Sienna, Italy
Sienna, Italy

 

 

Montecarlo, Italy (Tuscany), 2006
Montecarlo, Italy (Tuscany), 2006

 

Exeter Cathedral, England
Exeter Cathedral, England

 

We capture the castle, at Alnwick Castle, England, 2007 or 2008
We capture the castle, at Alnwick Castle, England, 2007 or 2008
Victoria Clock Tower, Ripon, England--out the window of our old house
Victoria Clock Tower, Ripon, England–a block from our old house

 

 

The Lake District, England, 2009.. Just a couple of silly blokes.
The Lake District, England, 2009. Just a couple of silly blokes.
Exiting the cave of Hell at Cennet ve Cehennem (Heaven and Hell), near Silifke and Kiz Kalesi, Turkey.
Exiting the cave of Hell at Cennet ve Cehennem (Heaven and Hell), near Silifke and Kiz Kalesi, Turkey.

 

Rouen, France
Rouen, France

 

And finally, a shout out for my home country on this anniversary of September 11th--at the statue of Pocahontas at Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in what would become the United States).
And finally, a shout out for my home country on this anniversary of September 11th–at the statue of Pocahontas at Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in what would become the United States).

 

This Old House: Your First Questions and Observations Answered

 

lego castleOur house sparks a little interest, a little concern, and a little inquisitiveness in folks.  So I thought I’d answer a few queries and concerns here.

Question Number One:  A friend came over for dinner with us and brought his eight year old son.  When we answered the front door, the son just stood there, looking up, then to the left and right.  “Is this a castle?” he asked.

Answer:  No, this is not a castle.  But it could play one on TV.

Question  Worrisome Observation Number Two:  I was standing in the kitchen, looking out the front window the other day when my son and daughter came walking home from school.  They stopped in front of the house and had a very animated conversation with a couple of kids from down the street.  Then those kids ran off  quick as lightening.        When my brood came inside, I asked them what that was all about.  “They said our house looks spooky,” was the response I got.

In answer:  Yeah, I guess it is a little spooky.  And you haven’t even seen the utility bills.   Aiieee!

(Drum Roll) The Most Frequently Asked Question:   Is it haunted?

Answer:  Thank goodness, nothing scary so far.  Some very creaky floor boards, and a few weird smells (possibly the house, possible my tweenage son), but nothing ghoulish.   If that ever changes, you’ll hear all about it.

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