Crazy German Customs, Part 1: Schmutziger Donnerstag

Today it's "Schmutziger Donnerstag" in Germany. Literally translated this means "Dirty Thursday". It's known in all parts of Germany, and it's a custom that (only today) women are allowed to cut off ties. I.e. if you're wearing a tie today, each woman would be allowed to cut it off. Isn't that crazy?

The origin of this custom is in my state. While in other states they only cut off ties, we still celebrate it like hundred years ago. The name doesn't relate to "dirt", although many people think so. But in my state people said "Schmutz" for fat. So it's actually a fat day. You're asking why? Because traditionally today you eat stuff like that:

Hundreds of years ago people in Germany didn't eat meat from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. So they couldn't slaughter animals on Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, because they can't eat the meat after Ash Wednesday, and the meat would go bad. Sunday was a "holy" day, no slaughtering as well. Saturday was semi-holy, because it's holy for the Jews. Friday has been a day of fasting in general, because Jesus died on a Friday... So, they slaughtered on Schmutziger Donnerstag for the last time before Easter. And this day was the last time of much meat and deep fried food. So was Monday and Tuesday next week, because they had to get rid of all their meat and rich food. Carnival (German: "Karneval") by the way goes back to the Italian "carnevale", which means "good bye meat". That's how those three Carnival days were born.


But wait, what does that have to do with cutting off ties?

I knew Mardi Gras was "Fat Tuesday" (because people gorged themselves before Lent started, hehe), and Mardi Gras is also called Carnival, but I thought it was just because of the festive atmosphere. Now Mardi Gras has a whole new meaning to me. Ahhh, good bye meat! LOL

Doug, actually that's a very good question. I have no idea.

Probably it's a symbol of power. "Schmutziger Donnerstag" is also known as "Weiberfasnacht" ("broad's carnival", or "women's carnival"), and cutting off ties probably demonstrates that women take over control on that day?!