From today on no more visits to the hairdresser

From today on no more visits to the hairdresser

What distinguishes the Oberammergauer from the Unterammergauer? The long hair and the massive beard – in the Passion Play season. Every ten years this provides a significant change in the residents in the place.

With Ash Wednesday it has become serious for the contributors to the 42. Oberammergau Passion Play 2020. All are obligated by a decree ied on this day to let their hair grow, and the men also the beards. Only the 60 young Romans, the orchestra members and the good spirits working in the background like scenery pushers are liberated.

The poster hangs everywhere in the town on advertising pillars or on the door of cafes; even in the shop window of the Kretschmar hairdressing salon, where there was a lot of activity in the days before because many people were treating themselves to one last cut.

Judas performer could get problems with Bundeswehr

Until the premiere on 16. May 2020 nature may now prevail on the heads of women and men. With some young actors, however, it remains to be seen whether more than a fuzz of beard will show above the chin. Judas actor Martin Schuster, who is in the service of the German armed forces, however, has a different problem. Longer hair is already allowed to him, but still the question because of the future full beard is not clarified. Play director Christian Stuckl already announced that a petition to Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) will probably be necessary in order to get an exemption permit.

Such a "Lex Oberammergau" already existed once before. The CSU politician Franz Josef Straub once put it into effect. That on the photos of club and family celebrations in the next months in Oberammergau many long haired and bearded people will be among them, one is used to that here. "This binds together," says Stuckl.

That is why this tradition will not be abolished, it is simply too funny for that. However, he does not participate as a boss, for this he asked mayor Arno Nunn to keep to the rule. The native Franconian may, because he lives now demonstrably 20 years in Oberammergau, play for the first time with the Passion. In 2010 it was still denied.

Custom goes back to the year 1633

Since when the tradition of the hair and beard decree has existed is not documented in the history books. Probably not from the beginning, when in 1633 the custom of the Passion Play began. At that time, 84 people died of the plague during the Thirty Years' War. The inhabitants then vowed to perform the Passion of Jesus every ten years, so that God would put an end to the disease. According to tradition, no one died of the plague afterwards.

At the beginning there were also only two performances per year, therefore Stuckl doubts whether for it such an expenditure with genuine hair and beard growth was made.

In any case, around 1750, the records show that seven guilders were paid to the barber for gluing wigs on one of the actors. From 1830 on, everything was real, as can be seen from the notes of an English tourist. Gradually, moreover, photos proved this development. In 1910, the writer Lion Feuchtwanger was also amused by the long haired people in the village, while at the same time harshly criticizing the performance.

Hairdressers stand by after last performance

The Nazis in the Oberammergau town council then had a problem with such apostle types in 1934, because it did not fit into the correct German image. They could not assert themselves, but on promotional tours to Berlin at least the accompanying "yodel group" had to look decent.

From his own family history, Stuckl reported that his grandfather, as head chef of a hotel, and his boss, were denied rooms at a Munich conference of the Hotel and Restaurant Association in 1950. Such guests appeared too scruffy, no explanation could help either. When the hippies shocked society with their appearance from 1968 onwards, this was not a method in Oberammergau to drive one's own parents up the wall. Because in the Passion Play year of 1970, grandpa and dad walked around here just like that.

If after 103 performances on 4. October 2020 the curtain falls for the Passion Play season, the hair falls too. Then, right after the resurrection, it's boom time for the hairdressers and in their own tents behind the Passion Playhouse, scissors and razors are put on.

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