Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Freind

Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Freind
Photo taken in Spring, 2007

The Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Freind (Pennsylvania German Friends) group meets once a month to enjoy the Pennsylvania German dialect and cultural traditions.

Regular meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month, September—June (except May). The group hosts a Fersammling in May. The meeting place is St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 1933 Hanover Avenue, Allentown. All who are interested are welcome at the gatherings.

Various aspects of the heritage and dialect of the Pennsylvania Dutch people in the Lehigh Valley are highlighted. Refreshments and conversation follow the program, and then a business meeting is held. Most of the meeting discussion takes place in the dialect, but you don't have to be fluent in the dialect to attend or participate. If you wish to become a member, dues are $10 a year. Free-will donations are accepted for refreshments.

Enter the church by the ground-floor door to right of main staircase ("Office" entrance). Parking is available in the church lot across street. Meetings may be cancelled during inclement weather.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fractur

Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fractur

This photo came from the web site of the Penn State University Libraries – Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fractur.
Another photo from the site is posted on the right-hand column of this blog.

For further information, click on link below.

(Quoted from their web site:)

This collection includes over 250 images from the holdings of Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Special Collections Library.

The term "Fraktur" (the word is both singular and plural) originally described a type of German printing similar to old English Gothic. The term today refers to drawings on paper made with pen, ink, and watercolor, using fancy penmanship and illustrations such as birds, hearts, flowers, and angels. They were commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries to document births and baptisms, marriages, and house blessings, among other occasions.

The collection also includes broadsides (sheets of paper printed on one side only, such as commentaries on religious texts and political events) and German-language newspapers. These documents provide us with insight into the everyday life of German immigrants and show the process of acculturation of German settlers to their new environment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Three Sisters" August Guild Gathering

I received the following e-mail message from the Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts in Kempton. A representative from their organization came to our Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Freinds a few years ago to give a presentation, and it was very interesting!

The registration form was attached to the message, but I did not copy it here. More information is available on their web site - click on the link at the end of this message. Pasted below is a copy of the e-mail message I received:

Hello everyone!
I am writing to tell you about our Guild Gathering this month. We will be discussing some seasonal traditions, beliefs and practices among the PA Deitsch as a whole and the Braucherei community in particular.

I will be teaching this workshop, sharing calendar and traditional
information from the Oley Lineage as it was taught to me by Dennis Boyer. This is a workshop that I have had a very good response from in the past, people really seem to get excited about these seasonal practices we discuss.

If you are interested in attending, please fill out the registration form I have attached and send it in with your payment for the event.If for some reason this is impossible, please at least RSVP so I know you are coming! The gathering will be held from 10 am to 3 pm on August 29th at Indigo Natural Healing Center. Please let me know if you need the address or directions. You will need to pack a lunch, but drinks will be provided. The cost for the gathering is $45 ($35 for Subscribers to Hollerbeier Haven).

Here is the description for the workshop:

August 29th, 2009: Wheel of the Year, Part 2 During our August gathering we will discuss the dark half of the year, from Alleliebeziel (Halloween) to Walpurgisnacht (May Eve).

The information we will be sharing comes predominantly out of the Oley Braucherei Freindschaft
(the Oley lineage of Braucherei). We will focus on the major and minor feasts acknowledged in the Braucherei tradition during this part of the year. In addition to this we will explore the significance of each of the six moons, of this half of the year. We will discuss the significance of each moon from the perspective of the Greek Zodiac and the Oley-Pikeville moon Calendar.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Check out our website for other upcoming events, there are discounts for multiple registrations!

Jesse Tobin
Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pennsylvania German Dialect class

Kutztown University offers a credit class in the Pennsylvania German dialect. The Introduction to the dialect class is held in the Fall semester, and the Advanced class is offered in the Spring semester. Senior citizens who are retired can register for free.

Contact the university for further information - 610-683-4000 or

The university also has a program of other related classes about Pennsylvania German heritage.

Kutztown Folk Festival

This year, I finally made it to the Kutztown Folk Festival! I went on Sunday, July 5, the last day of the week-long festival. I've wanted to go for so many years and never was able to go. I wasn't there for too long, but it was very enjoyable. Kutztown is a small town in Berks County, which lies directly west of Lehigh County. Many of its original settlers were Pennsylvania German farmers.

One speaker, I think it was Dr. Donner from Kutztown University, said that the festival is in its 60th year. It is called a "folklife" festival rather than "folklore" festival, because it highlights the culture by showing the way people live, such as crafts and farming. The word "folklore" seems more limited to just words and stories.

At the festival, I ran into Frank Shuler and his wife Janice from my Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Freind (Pennsylavania German Friends organization). They told me that Paul Kunkel was going to be speaking in the Seminar tent, and I was very happy to hear that. Paul has been a leader in Pennsylvania German cultural education for many years. He was my teacher in a Pennsylvania German class, in a Groundhog Lodge course, almost twenty years ago!

I really enjoyed Paul's talk - about Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions. What made it interesting is how he related it to what family members told him as he was growing up. So much more real than reading about these things in books! Then he told a story in the dialect, as a friend of his translated. That was delightful - I could compare the sounds of each sentence in German and English. That helped me learn more of the dialect - somehow it seemed easier to understand this way. Perhaps because the sentences were broken down one-by-one, I didn't lose the gist of the story as easily.

The other speakers I heard were interesting also - topics were: One-room schoolhouses, quilts, jokes, and Pennsylvania Germans in the Civil War. The Pennsylvania German Society sponsored the Seminar Stage presentations, and it was evident how much work went into the preparation by all involved.

The daily Seminar Stage talks are listed in the Festival Program as follows:

Bill Meck & Leroy Brown, Dialect Humor

Keith Brintzenhoff, Traditional PA Dutch Music

Meet the Mennonites, Mike Rhoads

Schooling, Dr. Bill Donner

Spirituality, Dr. Harry Serio

Pennsylvania German Society Speakers

Paul Kunkel – Folk Beliefs

Leroy Brown – Life of a Dutchman

Amy Lindenmuth, Quilts

Bill Meck & Leroy Brown, Dialect Humor

Crafts of the Festival and Cultural Events, Dr. Bill Donner

I got to experience a little of the rest of the festival - crafts, food and music. I hope to go again next year to see more. A big thank-you to all who made the Festival possible! For more information, go to their website:

Macungie event in August

Event in Macungie

August 30th - 9 a.m.

Solomon's United Church of Christ, Macungie

Paul Kunkel and others to speak

Welcome to the Pennsylvania Germans of the Lehigh Valley blog!

The Lehigh Valley area lies in eastern Pennsylvania, along the Delaware River. Pennsylvania Germans settled in this area in the 1700s, establishing many farms and towns. They speak a dialect which has evolved over time through a mixture of the dialects brought by the immigrants from their villages. Most people came from land that is now part of the country of Germany, which was established in the 1800s. I think that many came from the southwest corner of Germany, and across the border, in Austria. (I am not a historian, so please feel free to add any relevant information.)

Please feel free to comment on the culture, history and dialect of Pennsylvania Germans in this area and beyond. Memories of growing up in a Pennsylvania German setting are always interesting! Special foods that were prepared, or sayings - little things that made up daily life- are wonderful to hear about!

Also please post invitations to relevant events or activities. Your post can be written in the dialect or in English. If you'd like to enter a link to another Pennsylvania German or related organization, please do so.

If you can write your post or comment in the dialect, that would be great! I would if I could. The inclusion of a summary or translation into English can be helpful. Thank you!