‘Fronleichnam’ holiday in Germany

Flower Carpet
“Fronleichnam,” or Corpus Christi, is a federal holiday in Germany. Creating colorful flower carpets is one of many treasure traditions on Fronleichnam. Photo by Shutterstock.com.

By Teri Weiss
Special to The Citizen

The feast of “Fronleichnam,” or Corpus Christi marks a Christian holiday always celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday – eight weeks after Easter Sunday and one week after Pentecost or Whit Sunday.

This year, the holiday falls on June 15, 2017.

The term Fronleichnam comes from the Middle High German words “fron,” meaning lord, and “lichnam,” meaning body. The term refers to the original Latin expression “festum scantissimi corporis Christi.”

The Catholic holiday has honored the Eucharist since the 13th century. It is also known as the Feast of the Holy Body of Christ, as well as the Day of Wreaths.

In Baden-Württemberg and other parts of Germany, Corpus Christi is a federal holiday. It is marked by church services, masses and processional parades. Some of the tradition-minded rural Catholic areas of southwest Germany still celebrate Fronleichnam with colorful processions, streets decorated with fresh cut greenery, children in white dress and women wearing regional costume and wreaths.

Priests and acolytes leading the procession under a canopy then carry the Blessed Sacrament on a carpet of flowers.

In preparation, baskets of hundreds of thousands of flowers are picked and collected three or four days before Corpus Christi and stored in cool cellars. Contours of the ornamental pictures are drawn onto packing paper, and then petals and blossoms are pasted into picturesque motifs and religious designs. Around 4 am, 10 to 15 people start laying out the various portions of the Corpus Christi flower carpet

Especially, in Black Forest and Schwäbische Alb communities such as Hüfingen and Mühlenbach, or Hirrlingen and Wurmlingen near Herrenberg, elaborate floral carpets of 450 and almost 1000 meters in length are laid out.

Fronleichnam celebrations with processions and floral carpets will be held throughout various smaller towns such as Poltringen and Altingen (near Rottenburg).

For more information, visit: www.veranstaltung-baden-wuerttemberg.de/tradition-und-aehnliche-veranstaltungen-qqb-9b.

Also note, that stores, businesses, post offices and banks on the local economy will be closed in observance of Corpus Christi.