|by SCI Master Steinologist John McGregor
This article is one portion of a larger article entitled "Schlaraffenland
Steins and the Schlaraffia Society". The "chapters" in that
- Hans Sachs and the Meistersingers
- Schlaraffenland, or "The Glutton's Paradise", a poem by
- Schlaraffenland Steins
- The Schlaraffia Society
- Schlaraffia Chapter Steins
- Rubbing a Salamander
- Paragraph 11 and the Schweningerkur
There is a link at the bottom of this article to the next
chapter, or, to read"Schlaraffenland
Steins and the Schlaraffia Society"
in its entirety, click on the title of the article.
After a bit of
research into the meaning of the steins discussed earlier, the mysteries began
to fade, revealing a couple of interesting stories. The owl, or UHU, has been
recognized since ancient times as a symbol of wisdom, but it is virtually
unknown as the emblem of the Schlaraffia Society. The owl in this case, is the
European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), seen at right.
The Schlaraffia Society was founded in Prague, on October 10, 1859, by opera
singer Albert Eilers after he was snubbed for membership in Arcadia, an upper
crust association of art aficionados. The goals of Schlaraffia are to foster an
interest in music and the arts, provide some humor and promote friendship among
its members. Songs, poems, or skits, written by members, making fun of the
politically and socially pretentious, may often provide the humor. The selection
of the eagle owl as their emblem was somewhat serendipitous. The Gasthaus, or
hotel, where they held their first meeting had a stuffed eagle owl mounted over
the inside entrance and those in attendance decided that it represented their
interests and goals better than anything else.
At one time there were 144 Schlaraffia chapters in Germany alone. In 1935 Hitler
ordered the society to expel all of its Jewish members. The society pretended to
comply by removing those member's names from their membership lists. However,
even though their names had been removed from the lists, all were encouraged to
keep attending the meetings. Finally, in 1937 Hitler closed down the chapters
for not complying with his orders, trashed their meeting halls, stripped the
books from their library shelves and burned them.
After World War II it was still necessary for those members in Eastern Europe to
meet secretly because the Society was banned by the Communists. Today they can
once again meet openly in Prague where the society was founded. Shown below are
a couple of modern Schlaraffia pins. The pin to the left is from Schlaraffia
Vindobona. Vindobona is the ancient Roman name for what is now
Vienna, Austria where this Reych, or chapter, is located.
Currently, the Schlaraffia Society has over 400 chapters worldwide, with some
12,500 members, about 1,000 of which reside in the United States. New Jersey
alone has three chapters. The society has only two membership requirements, you
must be male and you must speak German, or at least be willing to learn German.
Their weekly meetings are held in halls called Burgs (see above), where they
dress in medieval costumes, address each other with humorous titles and German
is the only language allowed. Religion, business and politics of a personal
nature, are forbidden subjects within the Burg. All members are considered
equals regardless of their occupation, or station in life.
The LB&C stein discussed earlier could very well have been produced for sale
to society members. The scene on the body of that steins shows two individuals
dressed in medieval clothing with their street attire hanging on the bushes
behind them; a glove, a top hat, a pair of long trousers and what appears to be
a tie or cravat on one and a student jacket and a pipe on the other. This would
seem to indicate that the characters are in costume only and not actually living
in the middle ages.
Here again this scene reminds us of the promises of Hans Sachs' poem. The fellow
at left need only lie on the ground and wine will gush forth directly into his
mouth, while at right we see an example of -
Roast Chickens, Geese and Pigeons go
Flying within reach, and slow:
And when the birds are winging South
Just gape - they'll fly into your mouth!