Dress for Success
Tracht comes from the word “Tragen” meaning “to wear.” Tracht means that which one wears. Lederhosen and Dirndls are primarily Bavarian Tracht, but in fact, there are many different types of Trachten that can be found all over Germany.
Not a Costume
In the more narrow context of a Gauverband, Tracht means the garments that are worn to represent and preserve a particular period in Bavarian/Tirolean history and a particular community standing. That time period is generally the mid to late 1800s. To preserve the authenticity and history of Tracht many “Vereine”(folk dress groups) have established strict rules for the distinct regional forms of dress. And they are taken very seriously. At no time should Tracht ever be called a costume. Everything from the style of hat, to the hair style, and appropriate occasions for dress are defined to signify age, wealth, and marital status for instance.
Still, Tracht has undergone changes. The popular “Tracht” worn today has evolved to be far more modern, befitting our contemporary lifestyle. Modern Dirndln and Lederhosen which are more “mode” or fashion garments than historically accurate ones, do however, originate from the tradition of Tracht. To maintain the respectful etiquette, some basic dos and don’ts apply. One benefit to following these rules? More successful flirtations!
Some attribute these “rules” to the ancient custom where the husband usually escorted his wife, on the left. So that the magnificent bow wold not interfere with, or be crushed by this, they were better placed on the open right side. Ladies who went out unaccompanied, did not need this kind of consideration. But beware: Not every flirtation is desired. According to custom engaged and women in love must still wear the bow on the left. Only married couples are considered “completely taken.”
Kaffee und Kuchen
What country has elevated that often passed over after-dinner treat know as “dessert,” to a full-blown meal? For those of us who enjoy the sweeter things in life, there’s a most wonderful tradition known in Germany as Kaffee und Kuchen (“coffee and cake”).
Kaffee und kuchen is also referred to as a Zwischenmahlzeit, or a meal between meals (similar to the British tradition of Teatime), and is really an excuse to get together. The “official” kaffee und kuchen time is 4:00 p.m. Germans may go to a café, visit friends or simply pause to enjoy some treats and a little gossip on a weekend afternoon. They meet zum Kaffee (for coffee) as a wonderful way to indulge at least occasionally, and especially on birthdays. Being invited zum Kaffee always means there’ll be cake!
Germans are as serious about their cake as they are about their sausage. Their cakes are no joke when it comes to making sure every impossibly delicious and rich ingredient is used, and that’s why we are in love with them. Many cakes you’ll find filled with pure butter cream. Others are topped with all sorts of fresh fruits. Yet others are crowned with marzipan or butter praline almonds or hazelnuts, and of course the best cakes are baked with schnaps or rum.
Never hesitate to ask for a healthy dose of Schlagsahne (fresh whipping cream) to accompany this already sinful slice of life.
Tradition is what brings us together and what keeps us together. The sweet spot of this tradition embodies two things to adore: The chance to indulge in excessive desserts (before dinner of all things) and the chance to spend time with family and friends.