Bavarian Customs: Wolfauslassen

He is back again in Central-Europe, or so it seems. He has roamed these landscapes for many, many years. But with the rise of Agriculture and modern Forestry, there was just no place for him anymore, he was not allowed to live amongst his own on his own native lands. I am talking about the wolf. Until 1850 he lived in the Bavarian National-Forest. Back in these days, when people were still completely dependent on their soil and acreage, he was despised and seen as a great danger to the people and local harvest. The young livestock usually had large bells round their necks, to signalize to the bears and wolves that they shall stay away. There is an old tradition in lower Bavaria, that is directly related to that. During the summer, the young livestock was brought up to higher elevations unto green pastures and meadows, where they could roam and grass freely. However, there was a lot of wildlife back in those days.

When the livestock was brought back in late Summer and the harvest of the year was over, people celebrated the local tradition called “Wolfauslassen”. It is an old tradition, that is deeply rooted in Agriculture and a life dependent on acreage and farming. Traditionally, it is celebrated on the 10th or 11th of November. The farmers who gathered in groups made a lot of noise with large bells and so called “Goaßln”. In our globalized world, we have no idea how important a successful local harvest was to these people. We can eat potatoes or strawberries from mexico or spain during december, and not have to worry about survival. Back in these days, people had to struggle and live with nature. And yes, it was about survival.

This tradition offically started around the 17th Century, although there are some theories that this could have been an old celtic tradition as well, where the harvest was celebrated and negative spirits that could have harmed livestock and acreage, were banished from the villages. It makes sense to some degree, as there are many old celtic traditions that clearly show their connection to Agriculture, acreage and a good harvest. It might have been. But we don’t know, as we do not have enough verified sources anymore. It’s gotten lost over time. But the mystical Aura of the “Wolfauslassen” is still there. Experience it yourself when it takes place in the Bavarian forest in Rinchnach and other small villages.


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