You might ask yourself what is going on in the cover picture, and then you'll have the same sensation as I did when I visited the hometown of Einstein - Ulm during the special occasion of Schwörmontag (oath Monday). The feast activity is called nabada and is one of Ulm’s annual traditions around the Schwörmontag. If you stay in Ulm at the right time and want to take part in Ulm's special activities then here is your guide!
The Schwörmontag is a traditional festivity dating back to the 14th century, when patricians and the guilds of Ulm came (in the so-called Schwörbrief - oath letter) to an agreement over the power structures in the city’s parliament, which guaranteed same voting rights and which obliged Ulm’s mayor to give an annual report. The opening speech of the mayor (Schwörrede, oath speech) is held on the balcony of the Schwörhaus of Ulm (oath house) and forms the start of the festivities around the Schwörmontag, which usually is at the penultimate Monday of July.
The place in front of the Schwörhaus is normally packed during the Schwörrede, so be on time if you understand some German or if you just want to listen to it.
As I wrote, Nabada is a part of the festive activity around Schwörmontag. Everybody who wants to take part can build or bring their own boats, rafts or dinghies and enter the water of the Donau. The event starts at 16:00 and the common accessing areas are at height of the Illner bridge in Ulm-Wiblingen or of the office of the German Life-Rescue Society (DLRG) in Neu-Ulm.
It is recommend to arrive by public transport, because parking is limited and the city is very crowded. Then the fun can start and a water battle is opened on the Donau and also the participants try to involve the spectators on both side of the river. The motto boats and rafts are quite complex and creatively made constructions and sometimes also have political messages. Most participants use a dinghy, which is the laziest and easiest way to take part and especially good for newcomers.
The event has a long tradition and started as the custom of the "Bäuerle drive down", which was initiated as a joke around the Fischerstechen (fish sting) and which counts as the predecessor of the Nabadens.
Another event is the Fischerstechen, which starts with a parade at 10:00 at the Saumarkt in the fishermen's quarter. It only takes place every fourth year on the Sunday before Schwörmontag. Each participating team has four members on their raft in the water. Three for paddling and one duelist for leading the lance, trying to bump the opponent into the water. It is funny to watch it and to be in the middle of this tradition, whose origin is dated back to the 16th century. A local saga says that two fishermen observed a jousting tournament. Missing the horses and thinking that they could do the same with lances, the Ulmer fishermen Käßbohrer and Molfenter mounted their boat and started the tradition. The next Fischerstechen will take place in July 2021.
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