In Kochel, a small Bavarian town in the foothills of the Alps, the summer festival on Assumption Day is still a major event: in the church and at the lake.
“Oh Jesus Christ, please protect us from lightning, hail and storm.” The small church is hazy with incense and full of locals in their best dress: Women in dirndls and small black felt hats pinned to their carefully wound buns, and men in lederhosn und loden jackets. They hold pointed hats with feathers and flowers stuck in their hatbands, and some have brought old weapons. The flails, guns, halberds and morning stars commemorate a local revolt against Austrian rule in 1704. The women have brought bunches of flowers and herbs to be consecrated. “There should be more herbs in it,” a woman in full traditional costume admits. “I just took what I had ready to hand: rosemary, basil, valerian, chamomile, chives, …” With that, she sticks a small blue flower to Isa’s bicycle “It will protect you from traffic accidents!”
In the evening, everyone gathers at the lake for the local summer festival. An old man in full costume is stumbling away, having apparently gone through a few Mass (each is about 1 liter) of beer since the morning. Benches and a dancing stage are put up, a brass band in traditional costume plays, and young locals sell grilled fish, grilled pork’s neck and cakes baked by the Kochel housewives.