Category Archives: History

THE MISSOURI IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE: FACES AND PLACES

“Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”  – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938

A collection of contemporary and archival photography, and is particularly relevant as it celebrates the irrefutable role of immigrants in the development of St. Louis and Missouri and simultaneously illuminates the human side of immigration in Missouri today. In the early 19th century, color-transparent-55x60Missouri began welcoming waves of immigrants from Germany and Ireland, and by the turn of the century, Italian, Polish, Greek, and Eastern European Jewish communities had settled in the state. By 1900, St. Louis, Missouri was the fourth-largest city in America and home to one of the most predominantly foreign-born populations in the country. THE MISSOURI IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE: FACES AND PLACES exhibit from the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates was curated by Danny Gonzales and features photos by Juan Montana, Amela Sinanagic, Oscar Pedroza and Rita Chu. This project was created in support of the MHC_logo_stacked_dkblue-brn-300x146German Heritage Corridor of Missouri and in partnership with the Missouri Germans Consortium and the Missouri Humanities Council.

 

German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA®, Washington, D.C. will host Missouri Immigrant Experience: Faces and Places June 1 through gahf_logoAugust 5 at the German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™ located at 719 Sixth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 1 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM featuring Joan Suarez and Dorris Keeven-Franke as guest speakers introducing the exhibit. Executive Director Erika Harms and GAHF Board Member Megan Lott will represent the German-American Heritage Foundation at the opening reception. The museum is open from 11 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Friday and Saturday from 12 PM to 5 PM. It is closed on Sunday and Monday. Museum admission prices are $7 for adults, $5 for students, and free for GAHF members and children under 12. More info at www.gahmusa.org.

About the German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™: The mission of the German-American Heritage Museum is to collect, record, preserve and exhibit the rich cultural legacy of Americans of German-speaking ancestry and make their contributions to American history available to audiences of all ages. The museum also seeks to highlight the political, cultural and economic relations between Germany and the United States. The museum opened in 2010 in the heart of the old European-American section of Washington.

 

 

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Karneval is the Fifth Season

Karneval, Fasching and Fastnacht

There are different words in German for the Carnival or “Mardi Gras” Season: KarnevalFasching and Fastnacht. Although all three refer to the same pre-Lenten holiday season,  they each reflect the regional customs and traditions in Germany. Missouri Germans have immigrated from all over Germany for the past 175 years. The Fifth Season in St. Louis is most commonly referred to as Karneval and begins on the 11th of November !

In Germany Karneval is the word used for the Rhenish (Rhineland) version of carnival in northwest Germany (except in Mainz), while the word Fasching refers to the similar celebration in southern Germany and Austria. The term Fasching is also seen and heard in Berlin and other parts of northern Germany. Fastnacht, mostly used in Swabia and carnival-parade-masksSwitzerland, is also used in the northern city of Mainz. However, that still does not mean that these words are interchangeable. Karneval, is a more modern (17th century), Latin-based word borrowed from French and Italian. The true origin of the word is uncertain. The German word used to be written with a C rather than today’s K-spelling.

The Carnevale in medieval Venice is one of the earliest documented carnival celebrations in the world. It featured still-popular traditions, including carnival carnival-parade-happygirls1parades, masks and masquerade balls. Gradually the Italian Carnevale customs spread north to other Catholic European countries, including France. From France it spread to the German Rhineland and, through colonization, even to North America (Mardi Gras). The word Fasching dates back to the 13th century and is carnival-parade-costumesderived from the Germanic word vaschanc or vaschang, in modern German: Fastenschank refers to the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent. In the 19th Century the 40-day Lenten period of fasting was strictly observed. People refrained from drinking alcohol or eating meat, milk products and eggs. The English word “fast” (to refrain from eating) is related to German fasten. And according to GermanWay.com “Fastnacht, refers to the Swabian-Alemannic carnival, which differs in some ways from Fasching and Karneval, and is found in Baden-Württemberg, Franconia (northern Bavaria), Hesse and much of Switzerland. Although this word looks like it comes from the German for the “eve of Lent,” in fact it is based on the Old German word fasen (“to be foolish, silly, wild”). Thus the word, sometimes spelled Fasnacht (without the t) actually means something like “night of being wild and foolish.” 

In Germany parades are a big part of the celebration. The big day for Karneval is the Rose carnival-parade-bandMonday parade, whereas the big Fasching parades are usually the day before, on Carnival Sunday. But according to some sources, one of Germany’s biggest carnival parades takes place in the northern German city of Braunschweig… “Schoduvel” (“scaring away the devil”), …which dates back to 1293.

Karneval begins on November 11th
Many carnival organizations traditionally begin their official activities on November 11. Then it is suspended for Advent… and reconvenes in January. It is only following the Christmas and New Year’s season that carnival preparation really gets underway.

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St. Louis Stuttgart Sister Cities  Winter Ball

Organizations begin planning carnival balls and building floats. If there are any events on November 11, they are brief and only serve as a mini pre-carnival. Very little related to carnival happens between November 12 and January 5. No matter the name, almost all carnival observances end at midnight on Shrove Tuesday. The next day, Ash Wednesday, is the official start of Lent, even if very few people today actually fast until Easter. Historically, the purpose of carnival was to live it up before the start of Lent and its 40 days of gustatory sacrifice.

 

Karneval in the United States

From GermanWay.com: “There are a few places in the USA noted for their carnival observances. The most famous, of course, is New Orleans and its big Mardi Gras. That has a lot to do with the French influence in Louisiana (which was named for the French king Louis XIV). Lafayette,

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St. Louis Stuttgart Sister Cities Winter Ball

Louisiana also has its own Mardi Gras, as do Baton Rouge and several other Louisiana towns. There are good-sized carnival celebrations in Mobile, Alabama (since 1703!); Fredericksburg and Galveston, Texas; Biloxi, Mississippi and in Pensacola, Florida (dating from 1874). The Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis, Missouri is a relatively recent development that only began in the 1980s. What began as a private party at a bar has now become a rather large event with corporate sponsors.”  See STL4Stuttgart.com for more information or to attend their event on 11.11 to start your Fifth Season in St Louis, where you will also meet the new Prince and Princess chosen to rule over this Season’s events. 

 

 

“I am in a free country”

Letters sent home to Germany, tell us a story in a way nothing else can. Franz Hillenkamp, came from Warstein with the Giessen Society in 1834. He was 32 years old when he wrote to his dear friend Lorenz Schulte back in Germany in 1843 and said:

“I have never been sorry that I came here, as you have been told so falsely. That thought has not even occurred to me in my wildest dreams, much less in my wakened moments.”I have a good piece of property, no debt, a good wife and 4 blooming children; lots of cattle of any kind, food in abundance, and above all, I am a free and independent man, who is subject to none, except God and the law.”… Our two economies, here and there, are so totally different, that you could not possibly picture it.” … “I am in a free country, you my friend are in an unfree country. Here one may say his opinion freely and openly, but you have to keep quiet, otherwise you could run the danger like thousands of innocent people who have been sentenced and burned at the stake.”

Emigrants choose to make America their home. Not having the good fortune to have been born here, they do not take any of the wonderful liberties of freedom and independence for granted. They suffered many a hardship to call America home, a country where almost all us are immigrants.  Happy 240th Birthday America! May you have many many more.