Photos from Krampuslauf Philadelphia 2015: Parade of Spirits

Most of our photos came from the preparation period because it was difficult to take photos while marching, but there were other people taking photographs of the parade along the marching route. Hopefully we will be able to share more in the future. Featured in our photos are Mike Hicks in his debut in the role of Belsnickel. Robert L. Schreiwer reprised his 2013 role as Gedreier Eckhart, the leader of the Wild Hunt from Deitsch lore. Andria Carpentier marched as a spirit in the Hunt and assisted others with makeup. Corrine Johnson delighted the crowd with her stunning handmade Yule Cat (from Icelandic lore) costume. Joe Barrett and other folks formed a group of Yule Lads. 

Channel 17 has some great pics posted, particularly from the fire performers!

Once again, Krampuslauf Philadelphia: Parade of Spirits has exceeded our expectations. This wondrous, grassroots, community- and participant-driven event continues to grow and to flourish in the City of Brotherly Love.


Old Deitsch Units of Measure

Occasionally, we come across old units of measure that are not commonly known anymore. These units appear most in Braucherei and Blanzeheilkunscht (herbalism) contexts, but they can also turn up in other segments of the Deitsch culture, too. Some, particularly Loth, Blech, and Zoll, still turn up as live units in some charms and recipes, though the content of each as a unit is not always consistent in different areas.

These units are complicated by very few stated conversions historically. The list is further complicated by similar names in obsolete German units of measurement, many of which range widely from one region to another. There are some references to the English equivalents of some of the Deitsch measurements. For example, one may find a description of the Fuus and Baufuus measurements in the Autumn 1969 issue of Pennsylvania Folklife.

An ongoing list of the old Deitsch measurement units appears on the Maaseenheide page of the Blanzeheilkunscht site.



On this date in 1683, the first permanent settlers arrived to Philadelphia, marking the beginning of the great migration from the German-speaking lands.

Hail to those who made the voyage and laid the foundation!


Deitscherei Nation in Europa Universalis IV

It is worth noting that the term "Deitscherei" now exists as a playable nation in the video game Europa Universalis IV. This makes me smile!

I first coined the term "Deitscherei" in 1988 in order to refer to the non-contiguous areas that were settled heavily by the people who came to be known as the Deitsch. The first Deitscherei website went up in 1996, and, since then, the term has become used more widely.

As I linked to their page, I hope they will not mind if I share a screenshot of the Deitscherei nation in their game.

We've made it to video games!

Good Article about the Colonial Deitsch

Here is a good article describing the Colonial Deitsch... and it also reflects why Benjamin Rush has long been seen as a friend of the Deitsch people: The Life of the German Settlers in Colonial Times.

For those who have never read Dr. Rush's 1789 publication, An Account of the Manners of the German Inhabitants of Pennsylvania, it is a worthy read.


Nice Article from the "Historical Review of Berks County"

Folks who are interested in Deitsch history and the history of Berks County, in particular, may want to check out the journal of the Historical Society of Berks County, Historical Review of Berks County.

I recently came into possession of some of the back issues of this excellent journal, and I came across an article titled Pennsylvania Germans a tenacious folk by David Fooks. This article echoes William T. Parsons' 1976 Pennsylvania Dutch: A Persistent Minority and reflects several recent discussions on the various Urglaawe forums online. 

The doom of the Deitsch language and culture has been predicted for hundreds of years, yet it survives. We are currently enjoying a resurgence of interest and reinvigoration of all aspects of the culture, and the Urglaawe community is playing an active role in going beyond mere "preservation" in order to achieve "advancement." Ideas are beginning to bear fruit that allow for folks in the Diaspora to access more information and to take part in the advancement efforts. 

The Deitsch culture survives because something about it resonates with many people, regardless of location, origin or background. It is time to amp up the efforts a bit in order to make the acquisition process easier and more consistent. Folks who are interested in helping to advance the efforts of the Urglaawe community are welcomed to join us on our primary Facebook group.

The article linked above was scanned in and shared with the permission of the Historical Society of Berks County.



In addition to the Urglaawe-specific words presented in A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology, there are, unfortunately, many words that we use in Deitsch that do not appear in the most accessible dictionaries.

Here on the Deitscherei blog now are lists of words that I have noticed over the years are missing from the dictionaries. The word lists are still not comprehensive, but they do present omitted, yet current, words relating to technology, herbalism, religion, social issues, and more.

There are also lists of the Deitsch names of towns (needs to be updated) and states and countries.

This is going to be a long-term, ongoing effort.


Faas and the Faschingkluck

Shrove Tuesday (today) is a Christian observance, but it is widely suspected (or known) that some traditions associated with this day are pre-Christian in origin. In Urglaawe, those traditions are tied to the Entschtanning observance that begins on Groundhog Day. I have recently had a change of heart regarding one tradition, particularly as more input arose from the community. Thus, I figured I would share this here. The post originates in the Urglaawe Customs Guild.

Urglaawe Customs Guild Topic 13: Faas and the Faschingkluck

Recently I have made references to a bizarre tradition related to Shrove Tuesday but that very likely has pre-Christian roots. I have also said that it is, perhaps, the sole tradition that may be better off vanishing.

However, since first writing about it in 2012 (see below), I have engaged in several speculative discussions that are making me think about possible origins of this custom. Thus, I need to strip away my reaction to the schoolhouse setting in which this custom was described by Alfred Shoemaker in "Eastertide in Pennsylvania."

John B. Stoudt observed in "Folklore of the Pennsylvania Germans," the religious and spiritual practices of elder generations often end up reflected only in children's games and songs in later generations. That is an important point to keep in mind when reading and considering the schoolhouse game.

Additionally, since 2012, I have had people comment to me that the schoolhouse was not the original location of this game but instead ended up becoming the location only after the rise of organized education provided a readily accessible location, so things that might have been done in a community setting easily transferred to the schools.

So here is a portion of the Faas traditions from "A Dictionary or Urglaawe Terminology," including the bizarre Faschingkluck game, followed by some speculations based on later discussions.

In the Deitscherei, another aspect of the Fasching is that the last person in the household to arise in the morning is deemed "the Faschtnacht," "der Faas," "der Faschingkluck," or myriad names. When I was growing up, within our household, the last child to arise in the morning of the Fasching had to do one extra chore by the end of the day. Customarily, in many Deitsch households, the last child has to tolerate teasing by his siblings all day long.

The same applies to the last child to arrive at school on Shrove Tuesday.

In the past, there were some rather elaborate teasing rituals involving the clucking sound of chickens in school. As the children arrived, the girls would cluck like hens and the boys would crow like roosters. As another child would arrive, he/she would receive instructions that he could not cluck or crow like the others until yet another child arrived. Instead, the last child would have to call out, "Hallo Faas!" to the next arriving child (Shoemaker 1-5).

If a child erred and clucked or crowed, there were penalties involved, particularly having to give a kiss to a member of the opposite gender. Girls, in particular, were encouraged to kiss any boy who caught their fancy.

The clucking, crowing, and kissing sound like they were originally part of some sort of fertility-related ritual. Teachers in the post- modern era would very likely be more than a little bit disquieted by their students engaging in this behavior. However, the tradition was clearly in effect well into the 20th century, and aspects of it may well live on in parts of the Deitscherei even now.


I really do not know how old this game is or how widespread it once was. However, people have since told me that children's animal imitation on a family or community level is something that they recall as innocent games that involved you "becoming" the animal of honor. For instance, engaging in a cow's behavior on a driving day could help to make the drive go more smoothly.

Bearing Stoudt's observance on children's games retaining a portion of prior generations' spirituality, I am wondering whether the ultimate root of this game is in shamanic animal spirit engagement (which is not unknown in Hexerei anyway) that might have been ritual for adults in order to encourage fertility of their animals.

Heck, the Groundhog myths and Butzemann rituals have shamanic elements, and plant spirit work is common, so my personal take (after years of being uncomfortable with the details of this game) is that it is not a big leap to find remnants of another shamanic practice living on in a peculiar children's game.

Thus, my earlier statements about allowing this tradition to die out were too hasty.

Perhaps it is better to reframe it so that the possible origins of it are the focus.


I have recently learned that there are even more bizarre traditions in Flanders that go back to the Middle Ages and involve students engaging pre-Lenten cockfighting. This violent tradition almost certainly shares the same root (though not necessarily the same practice or function) as our current tradition. Our tradition sounds increasingly agreeable to me.