Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Eisenach’s Summer Gain
The „Eisenacher Sommergewinn“ is a spring tradition which prepares for Laetere Sunday with a diverse festival program. Central to it is the victory of summer over winter or of life over death. The tradition can be associated with death expulsion traditions, which spread during the 13th century as reaction to pest epidemics.
A week before Laetere Sunday an extensive stage program called “Kommersch” opens the festival week. With music, dance and cabaret amateur actors engage critically and humorously with urban topics. On Saturday a festival parade with floats and walking groups symbolizing seasons and dealing with historical themes mark the highlight of the week. Afterwards a straw man symbolizing winter or death is burnt.
Guided by the “Sommergewinnszunft Eisenach e.V.” municipal authorities, kindergartens, schools, nursing facilities, associations, etc. organize the festival.
The “Sommergewinn” unites citizens of different classes and generations.
It gives amateur actors and manually skilled and artistically talented citizens the chance to express themselves in the festival program, in making costumes or decorating floats, houses and stages. They respect traditions but also give the festival new impulses.
The tradition transmits historical knowledge in a meaningful, understandable, and entertaining way. The symbolism of the “Sommergewinn” allows every generation anew to broach issues such as overcoming crises and hoping for a better life through collaborative engagement.
The tradition originated in the poorest part of town. Through the parade, which takes place since 1897, previously marginalized people came to the city center and created an identity shaping offer, which soon became known across the town’s borders. Until today the “Sommergewinn” has such integrative and communicative power and is important for the city’s identity.