Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dresden - Mannentag (mens day)

Maennentag (men’s day) is one of those things that just does not translate into anything we do in the US. We heard about this advance from other internationals so we were ready for it, however we were warned to be careful, especially women, to avoid harassment from these groups.

It has few other names are Vaterstag (god’s day or father’s day) or Herrentag (male’s day). Think from all the names you might be getting the idea of what it is.

Here is one definition of what this day is all about:

Groups of male friends or male relatives spend a day together. They often take part in an outdoor activity, such as a walk in the country or a horse-and-cart ride. Afterwards, they have a communal meal.

Here is another (from

Germany's Vatertag began in the Middle Ages as a religious procession honoring "Gott, den Vater" on Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt, usually in May). Although as late as the 1700s Vatertag was a family day for honoring dad, somehow things went sour and in the 19th century the custom reappeared in Berlin as a less refined and very alcoholic celebration on that same date (5 May 2005, 25 May 2006, 17 May 2007). Today Germany's Vatertag is supposed to be closer to a "boys' day out" and a pub tour with the guys (Männerrunde) than the more family-oriented Father's Day in the U.S. In eastern Germany the day is known as Herrentag, but in all parts of Germany, the Herrentag/Vatertag tradition has a bad reputation as a "Sauftag" ("drinking day"). It may make German bar and brewery owners happy, but hardly anyone else. In some regions groups of men (few of them fathers) still go off into the country to have a "Joe Six-Pack" party on Vatertag, but in reality, the German Father's Day beer bust is largely a thing of the past. While in the past a bunch of drunken men may have been amusing, it is no longer viewed as something funny. Besides, German men today hardly need a holiday excuse to have a few drinks with their buddies.

From what I have seen it is more toward the later, and also seem to be in decline, that is not everyone was doing it. That is how it appeared from the city center area where we lived. They pull wagons of beer and supplies or all have backbacks and it starts early, as we started seeing groups at 9:00 am.

We did see some groups that included women with them and even a couple of counter groups of all women. We did go about our normal day, Melissa biked to the institute and she had no incidents, although she did see a large gathering near a beer garden (Johannestadt) on her way.

The most elaborate group we saw (with women) this day, right near the Altmarkt Platz.
The end of the "Train":

Another group:

Wagon in tow, with the German flag, a patriotic group:

Popular gathering area of Maennentag'ers on the Elbe:

Police keeping things in order, no arrests were made just some talking:

To the right:

Another loud group:

Another group, these guys could have been having a bachelor party, on there shirts it said "Game over" and the date they were married, and the guy in the Banana custom could be the groom. On the weekends we see a groups of men and groups of women that we think are having bachelor parties, dressed up in customs like this group:

The deluxe wagon, someone spent some time getting this wagon ready:

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