Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

The "Pentecostal Dance" as the Basis of Communal Development in the Association of Municipalities Mansfelder Grund-Helbra

There are many Pentecostal associations, but those in the villages of Ahlsdorf, Blankenheim, Hergisdorf and Kreisfeld in the association of municipalities Mansfelder Grund-Helbra exemplify how a common practice can lead to intensive cooperation on a municipal and cultural level. Pentecostal customs have been known in the area since at least the beginning of the 19th century; since 1922 they have also been documented photographically and by name. Although the course of events of the individual Pentecostal societies differ, they all have the background of expelling winter and longing for springtime as a "fruitful time".

Facts & Figures

Crucial date: Pentecost Weekend
Inscription: 2018
Where to find: Ahlsdorf, Blankenheim, Hergisdorf and Kreisfeld (Saxonia-Anhalt)


Verbandsgemeinde Mansfelder Grund-Helbra
Verbandsgemeindebürgermeister Bernd Skrypek

The "Pentecostal dance" is firmly anchored in the annual rhythm; and cultural life in the association of municipalities Mansfelder Grund-Helbra is not imaginable without it. In the Pentecostal societies, both members of the younger and the older generations are involved.

In the months before Pentecost, all associations are in their respective preparations for the "Pentecostal Dance". The sewing of traditional clothing, the folding of the bows and wrapping of garlands, the ordering of “Maien” (maypoles – young birch trees) at the forester and the planning of the festivities are always joint activities. The distribution of the “Maien” in town on the Pentecostal Saturday is the first item on the agenda. The boys, accompanied by a band, move from house to house to delight the citizens with the “Maie” and a serenade. These thank them by tipping the Pentecostal Society. The Saturday's dance - the traditional apron ball - culminates after a brunch on Pentecost Sunday in an afternoon parade with whip-cracking runners in the village.

The highlight of the day is another dance event taking place in the evening. On Whit Monday, the traditional "forest game" takes place: Together with the Pentecostal boys one heads on into the forest. During the parade in the afternoon, the Pentecostal boys, dressed in white with colourful hats, embody spring. After the parade, dances and games begin again until dawn. On Pentecost Tuesday, the Pentecost boys walk through the village to receive gifts from the citizens. In the evening, the Pentecost weekend ends with a "funeral of the Pentecostal dance" inspired by ecclesiastical traditions.

The common tradition and their care formed a not to be underestimated basis for the merger of the communities in the association of municipalities Mansfelder Grund-Helbra.

For the Pentecostal societies, however, the club life is no longer limited to the festivities around Pentecost. Every year in January, there is now a networking meeting of the various associations. In order to acquire young talents and exchange, the clubs organize further festive events (for example Easter, Spring and Autumn festivals), carry out targeted public relations work in kindergartens and schools and plan joint working meetings with each other as well as in cooperation with other clubs (for example marching bands, sports clubs). Based on the positive experiences of the Pentecostal dance, numerous new ideas were developed in joint workshops. Thus, initial exchanges of experience have led to partnerships at the association and communal policy level.

Mutual exchange of experience and common learning processes take place through the cooperation of the associations across municipal boundaries. Here lay and lies the model for local political actors. From the beginnings of the cooperation of the Pentecostal societies, the “Integrierte gemeindliche Entwicklungskonzept” (Integrated Community Development Concept (IGEK)) of the association of municipalities was developed. Here was put on record that the societies’ activities should be jointly maintained and promoted in order to increase the attractiveness of the individual municipalities and the identification of the inhabitants with their place of residence or community. In addition to the cooperation in the common practice of the Pentecostal dance, cooperation was also established on other levels. For example, the founding of a central building yard with shared use of cost-intensive large-scale technology is anchored in the IGEK. Cooperation regarding the use of technology benefit, among other things, the performance of the Pentecostal dance, as the festival sites and halls are prepared together with the construction yards for the festival. In addition, common guidelines for a climate protection scheme were established, which should lead towards the appointment of a climate manager in the association of municipalities. Initial approaches to local government cooperation were also reflected in the coordination of joint investment measures. For the financial year 2017, the renovation of the multi-purpose hall in Blankenheim was planned and intended for the different associations to share. Because the motto "celebrate, organize, plan together" works out so well, the involved parties try to incite further cooperation with other Pentecostal societies in the surrounding area.

In the region, the associations have recognized that only cooperation and continuous networking with each other leads to the safeguarding of their tradition for future generations. A shared school concept in turn supported the Pentecostal societies in the transformation of their own tradition, namely a departure from the "hereditary tradition": Before that, they admitted participants only if their fathers had been participants before, now “little runners" are able to join the association through targeted children and youth work - this has solved the problem of succession. Even women and newcomers now have the opportunity to actively integrate into club life. The opening up of membership for all took account of demographic and social change. Even former "spectators" or solely background helpers are now actively involved.

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