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The Queste Festival, Questenberg, South Harz Mountains, Pentecost 1990: "Questenfest" (queste festival) [5/6]

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June 4 1990
Questenberg in the Harz region
Created By: Kai-Annett Becker

License: Creative Commons License

A group of men during the erection of the "queste" (tree trunk with large wreath) at "Questenfest", a Pentecost celebration on the Southern border of the Harz mountain range

Depicts

fair, group of people, man

Context

fair, journey, nature, public holiday, rock (geology)

Places

Questenberg

Other items in this set

Memory

"I went to Questenberg to photograph the Queste Festival at Pentecost as part of my extensive work on cult places in Germany. Located on the Southern border of the Harz mountain range, it is home to the 'Queste', a tree trunk with a wreath. This annual celebration held on the Pentecost weekend had been of interest to me for a long time already.

Together with a friend, who had initiated the trip, I booked myself into a little bed and breakfast in Questenberg and walked (marched!) up the hill with the 'Questen team' at four in the morning.

For those who aren't familiar with the area, Questenberg is overlooked by an enormous outcrop and this is where the so-called Queste is put up. The Queste is a wreath made up of birch branches with two tassels on the sides. It is tied to an approximately 10 metre-high oak log.

During the course of the Queste Festival, which lasts all day, the old Queste is removed and part of it burnt. Then the new one is put up. Many think this ritual goes back to a Celtic summer solstice celebration. However, legends dating back to the knights of the Middle Ages also make reference to it.

In any case, we were woken up by a trumpet call at half-past-three in the morning. And given that the mountain is all winding and rather tedious to climb, it turned out to be quite a hike that took us well into the morning.

One could smell wild garlic, which apparently grows here. And when we got to the top, a number of different ceremonies took place, which I witnessed with both surprise and confusion (such as for example, eating sauerkraut with two fingers).

Guests from West Germany had been invited for the first time that year. They came from a twin association in Vlotho Exter and put their ideas about.

The new Queste is then balanced onto the trunk in the afternoon whereby the effort required rather reminded me of the raising of the flag on Uriah Heep's 'ConQUEST' album cover..."

Kai-Annett Becker