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Letter: Traditional celebration is October highlight

October has gone by so fast! I have done many amazing things to fill the time. I continue with school, orchestra, ballroom dancing and soccer. I also enjoy other activities such as hanging out with friends and going to the movie theater.

I was very fortunate to be here this year because I got to experience the first “Lange Nacht die Turme,” which translates to “The Long Night of the Towers”. Here in Crailsheim there are many buildings with tall towers, from the Rathaus (City Hall) to many churches. On this night they shined different colored lights on all the towers to make a picture. It was so beautiful! My favorite illusion was one displayed on the Rathaus with doves. Besides the light projections, there were also other activities. I attended with Elfriede Kohr, who is like a wonderful grandma to all the exchange students. We ate pizza, listened to the bands, watched live street art and saw all of the lights. My favorite part was going on a tour of the tower in the Rathaus. We climbed all the way to the top and got to see the night view of the city of Crailsheim from way up high. It was spectacular, and I am very thankful that they began this event the year I came.

A very big part of the month was Hameltanz, begun in 1476 and 300 years older than America. The tradition is that couples dance around a tree for a set amount of time. No one knows how long except for the person who sets the time. While they dance one couple always has a sword, and every time they make a loop they pass the sword to the next person. When the timer goes off, the couple with the sword wins. A donated sheep is also involved, and the couple that wins the tree dance pays to have it slaughtered and cooked. All of the couples eat the sheep together, and the winning couple also has to pay for everyone’s drink. It is a very expensive prize, but it is a great honor. To participate, the rules require that the man has to be from Onolzheim, or has had to lived there for at least two years; also the couples can’t currently be married or can’t have ever been married. It's kind of funny because some couples wait years to get married until after they win! This was very fun and intense to watch.  

Along with the dance there is a parade on Sunday and Monday, which I was in.  Every year the parade has a different theme, and the groups make their float and costumes to fit this theme. This year it was “Everything Colorful.” My group decided to be colored pencils. We made everything from scratch. I helped by painting many pieces of wood to look like colored pencils. Our float looked really cool. We made a big pencil sharpener, a huge pencil case and an eraser. We also made costumes to look like colored pencils for us to wear. Everyone had their own color, with mine being American-themed. My pencil consisted of the American flag and I also had red, white, and blue makeup. This contrasted to Lilo’s German flag-themed pencil and makeup. During the parade, we did a choreographed dance. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with for their float. I appreciate the opportunity to have been a part of this, and it felt remarkable to participate in something with that many years of history.

At the end of the month I moved to the Zanzingers, who are my next host family. I am so thankful to them for welcoming me. I can’t believe I’ve already been here for three months, and am excited to see what the next month has in store for me.

A big thank you to the wonderful people of Crailsheim and Worthington for making this exchange possible!