Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our "local" saint Elizabeth and her market

Hi family and friends!

SO, this post is out of chronological order, since the Elizabethsmarkt was the weekend of October 13 and 14, but well, I have time to post now, and didn't then. There was no kimchi like at the festival near the new home of my friend Emily ( but I think the Elizabethsmarkt was a bit more German and a bit less Korean!

First, let me tell you about Elizabeth, well, Saint Elizabeth of Thuringen.  She lived a long time ago (in the 1200s) and was a Hungarian princess, betrothed at an early age to Louis a "Landgrave" in Thuringia/Thuringen, they married, she had 2 kids, and he went off on a pilgrimage and died.  The tour guides at the Elizabeth's church here in Marburg seem to find it really important that despite it being an arranged marriage, she really loved her husband, but in any case, once he died, she decided to give up living like a noble, moved to Marburg, founded a hospital and chapel, gave a ton of her money to poor people, and died at the age of 24.  She accomplished a lot in those 24 years, and I skipped over lots of details: fighting with the in-laws, specific acts of mercy, etc...I'm sure you can brush up on the details elsewhere on the interweb. I can say that I'm definitely not following her on the track towards sainthood (and clearly am living past the age of 24).  Suffice it to say, She quickly became a saint and since she spent the last years of her life here in Marburg, people around here seem to view her as "their" saint.

In any case, there's a big market and festival that bears her name in October every year in Marburg, and Sasha and I decided to see what it was all about after church on Sunday.  It was great!  There were different things going on in different parts of the city, but we checked them all out.  Down in Weidenhausen (where we raced our ducks in September) there were the equivalent of garage sales for people without garages (tables where people were selling used stuff) and we bought a muffin tin and some books.  I don't have any pictures, because we were too busy book shopping ;-)

Next, there was a midway sort of area down by the banks of the Lahn (the river that goes through Marburg).  I wanted to go on the Ferris wheel, but my husband doesn't really like rides, so we didn't.  I probably could have talked him into it, but... at least we both have similar negative opinions about the rides that spin around and around and make you (us?) get motion-sick.
It's definitely funny to have a ferris wheel suddenly appear in the middle of town.

Much more exciting (to us) were the booths in the "Oberstadt" (the part of the old city that goes up the hill towards the castle) selling things like jam and purses and the other exciting findings like a story teller who will sell you 100 grams of story for 1-3 euros.  We, of course, needed to buy a story.  By which I mean that -I- wanted to buy a story and my husband humored me.  

I chose a "Märchen" (fairy tale) collected by the Brother's Grimm about a "Kind" (child) and he told us the story about the Sterntaler.  The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a girl and she was very poor, and had no parents and no house and no bedroom and had only one outfit of clothing and one piece of bread.  As she was walking through the town (for what else do you do when you have no house) she saw an old man who looked even more poor and more hungry than herself, and he asked for bread and she gave him her entire piece of bread.  She went a little further and saw a child, much younger and colder than herself dressed all in  and the child asked for a piece of clothing, and the girl gave the child her jacket.  As she went a little further, she saw another beggar, who asked for (and received) her dress.  Now, it was becoming dark, and as the girl approached the forest, she saw another beggar in rags who asked for her shirt, and since it was now quite dark, the girl saw no need for a shirt, so she took it off and gave it away.  So now the girl had nothing, but the stars themselves saw what she had done, and rained down upon her, and the rain of stars were coins of gold (Taler, to use the old German word) and she found herself dressed again, and her new dress was made from the finest linen.  She gathered up the coins and was rich and generous for the rest of her days. 

This is a popular story here, and indeed, one of the many fairytale artworks around the city illustrates this story, this one lights up at night, and is on an old church/university building:
Sasha with his head in a cabbage.

BUT back to the Elizabethmarket.  In the Marktplatz, there was a stand selling sausages and "pommes" (french fries) which we came back for at the end of the day, and funny truck things that children/families went into, and there was this set of strange hemispheres that we decided needed to be checked out.  We walked around and stuck our heads into each and they were pretty cool...although I won't ruin the surprise and tell you what's inside them!
Could you pass up the chance to stick your head in something that looked like this?

The final set of interesting things was down by the Elizabeth's church.  There, there were booths with information about social services, etc.  We didn't really do much there, but there were people trying to educate you on the effects of driving drunk, and they had this awesomely entertaining pair of glasses that you could put on and then they gave you beanbags to throw and try to knock down a pyramid of tin cans.  I'm not sure their blood-alcohol equivalent (.8%) was accurate, but wearing the glasses, I couldn't even easily get the beanbags out of the volunteer's hands, much less throw with any accuracy.

Anna wearing "beer goggles"
Oh, I forgot to mention, we convinced a new church friend and her 16 year-old son to join us.  I warned them that we get excited by lots of stuff, and they were definitely patient about watching us buy stories, stick our heads into hemispheres, etc.  I hope they don't think we're too crazy now!  

Another great thing about the market was that all the stores were open on Sunday.  Usually, nothing is open on Sundays except for a bakery or two and some restaurants, but since our stuff STILL hasn't arrived on the boat, and I am getting tired of my single orange-ish sweater, I bought another sweater so now I have TWO sweaters in Germany.  Which has greatly improved my patience in waiting for the boat to bring our stuff (although I still really miss my racing bike).

Anyway, there you have it, that's what the Elizabeth market is all about.  At least if you are Anna and Sasha.


  1. What was inside the hemispheres??

  2. I'd like to know the answer to that too! Also, I wish that we could all be exploring all these markets and festivals together. If only teleporting were real... Finally, buying a story is so much more charming than buying fermented crab!!