Forst Hanselfingerhut

Forster Hansel Fingerhut
Forster Hansel Fingerhut

The village of Forst, well-known for its excellent wineries, is located on the German Wine Route on the slopes of the Haardt. On every Mid-Lent Sunday, this beautiful setting is used for the “Hanselfingerhut Spiel”, a special summer play to cheerfully drive out the winter.

The play has been performed since more than 200 years as historical documents mention it as early as 1721. Originating from immigrants from Switzerland and Upper Germany, the dramatic play has mixed with the local rituals to drive out the summer. The most lively and famous of the plays is performed in the wine village of Forst. Although the play looks far from extravagant to the outsider, it is still profound. In a literal sense, it truly is a people’s play that is spiced up with humor and originality. The play is based on the old Germanic idea of summer battling the winter.

The play is divided into four scenes and features six roles. The village road serves as the stage on which the play takes place. The first scene shows the fight between summer and winter for which purpose both actors are in small conical houses made from slats and poles. While the house of the winter is clothed in straw and crowned with a straw cross, the house of the Summer is covered with ivy and decorated with a little blue-and-white flags. Both houses have a peephole at head height so that the ‘warriors’ inside the houses are able to fight properly with their wooden sabers. After both warriors have carried their small houses down the village road and presented their respective advantages, the fight eventually starts and summer emerges as the winner.

In the second scene, the Henrich-Fähnrich appears, who resembles an officer cadet of the former landsknechts and who has the judicial authority. Henrich-Fähnrich decides on who has won the fight between summer and winter.

The main character of the summer play, the Hanselfingerhut, enters in the third scene. With ragged clothes and a sooty, oily face, he is holding a bale of soot in his hand. His look is meant to represent a vagabond who has squandered everything he owned. Nevertheless, he always feels like playing merry tricks on people and teasing young, beautiful girls. While he sings his small piece, he walks back and forth within the 5m distance between the two houses of Winter and Summer. At the end of his piece, he tries to catch one of the girls in the crowd, to press his black brand on her face with a kiss.

In the fourth scene, the Hanselfingerhut, who has become very weary in the meantime, is shaved by the barber and given inner relief by bloodletting from the toe. However, as the treatment is too strong, the Hanselfingerhut faints. While all the other characters surround him and lament, he eventually wakes up again after the Henrich-Fähnrich tickles his ribs with his saber. Nudelgret comes running and revives him with fresh pretzels.

Date: 18.03.2012


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