Berlin Bonfire Night – Funkenfeuer
Last night was Easter Eve and it was also Bonfire Night – Funkenfeuer – in Berlin. We didn’t know what to expect but our friend Stefan told us we’d all have a good time. And he was SO right!
The bonfire or Funkenfeuer marks the end of Lent. But since I have read about quite a lot of such festivities during my years of graduate degree research, this one is definitely a pagan-origin ceremony that has been ‘absorbed’ into Christian tradition.
We followed Stefan down the pathway through the grass (Stefan is in the red jacket on the right — turning back to look at us) and we could soon hear and see the throngs of people who had arrived earlier.
The sun was low in the sky as we made our way through the crowds, but the first of the large bonfires had already been lit and was blazing away. Hundreds of people milled around, eating barbeque or salads or sweets and drinking the plentiful beer on tap.
We ate delicious roast pork sandwiches, drank beer, watched the fire for awhile, and then Stefan and Mark stood in the eerie blue glow of the beer stand to get another beer.
The second bonfire was lit as darkness descended and it was even more dramatic than the first one had been since it was now silhouetted against the black skies. As I edited the photos this morning, it was easy to understand how mankind in a more primitive time period could have ‘seen’ visions of dragons or eerie figures dancing atop the flames against the inky backdrop of the night sky. I certainly see them in the last 2 photos below!
We may all be more ‘civilized’ nowadays, but the powerful allure of an enormous bonfire still answers some primitive song which is echoing in our hearts.
SUNDAY NIGHT POSTSCRIPT
Although the term Funkenfeuer is apparently technically correct, our Stefan told us tonight that he had never called it by that term and had always heard it called simply “Easter Fire.”
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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24/04/2011 at 9:41 AM