“Hey ya, hey ya!”
That’s how you heard it from various corners of the castle. It was sung, it was danced, the castle was filled with music. It was again Euro week. This year we welcomed the group “Kud Salona” from Croatia, which was founded more than seventy years ago, for the first time at the castle. With their mandolins they spread a summery feeling of sea and vacation.
Also the group “Gelmel” from Belgium visited us for the first time. They brought us a little closer to the tradition of flag-waving. In addition, they presented a very emotional choreography of the First World War, which was created on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of the war last year.
Our longtime friends of “Le Quadrille Occitan” are already among the regular guests of Eurowoche with eleven participations. Its founder, Jean-Louis, has been visiting us regularly at the Ludwigstein since the 1970s. Light-footed, they danced on the stage floor. So light that they took off occasionally.
We ourselves, the Working Group European Youth Weeks e.V., were represented in terms of dancing with a cooperation from our own group, “Die Ludwigsteiner” and members of the “Hessian folk dance friends”.
However, our guests from the “Trinity Irish Dancers” had the longest journey from the USA with their three musicians from Ireland. In addition to traditional Irish music, they astonished everyone with their whirling dance steps.
After a short meeting and dancing, the Eurowoche started with a more than well-attended kick-off event on the market place of Witzenhausen. The dancers, with their dazzling costumes, Dalmatian sounds and powerful tap dance steps, offered a foretaste of the big evening events during the week. The city itself celebrated its decades of partnership with guests from Filton, England and Saint Vallier, France. They too did not want to miss the spectacle and contributed a lot to the good mood this evening.
After another successful appearance in Fürstenhagen on Sunday, the key to the castle was unearthed and the spirit of the Euro week awakened. This was the beginning of a very musical week. Each group creates its own day, which starts with the awakening. From Mediterranean mandolin sounds to a French hurdy-gurdy, to St. Martin’s songs, there’s something for even the worst morning grumbler to get started. Everything is decorated in traditional country colours, we learn Dalmatian folk songs, Belgian hits and what the French Survivalkit looks like before it goes to the workshops. When smithing small swords, improvisation dance, Lindyhop, the sports workshop and in the creative workshop all have the opportunity to get to know each other and to exchange.
Musicians from all groups not only gather in the orchestra workshop. Throughout the day you can hear accordion, violin or mandolin playing. On Wednesday, our rest day, they fill the courtyard with improvisations of all styles and spread a unique mood and goose bump feelings. So it is not surprising that from this rarely good cooperation at the end of a Eurowochenmedley with melodies from all participating nations arises.
Our choirmaster Maartje, who already attended Eurowoche nine years ago with the dance group “Holland Express”, motivates all vocalists to peak performances not only in the morning singing but also in the choir. Together with the orchestra they rehearse Queens “We are the Champions”, which they also present at the big closing event.
The afternoons are then used to make new contacts over coffee, waffles and ice cream or just catch up on lost sleep. Strengthened, all gather in the evening in the Meissnersaal and try traditional dances from the respective country, before you can see the full potential of the groups at the evening events and discover new facets of their culture and customs. The spectators and we get to know a Croatian bagpipe made of goatskin, see what life was like in Flanders at the turn of the century and can only be amazed at how fast the dancers feet fly across the dance floor at Irish Folk Dance. “The Ludwigsteiner” with the “Hessian folk dance friends” and the “Quadrille Occitan” make their evening together and celebrate the Franco-German friendship with a joint Eurokirmes. The rest of the evening you spend together with a drink in the Klause and we deepen our newfound friendships.
Sporty variety is provided by the traditional Burgolympiade. After the swearing, not to take seriously, skill and brains are asked at various games. Our new friends from Croatia were the champions this year and will receive an ice cream and kitchen service as a prize.
Unfortunately, this Euro week too soon comes to an end. We gather in the cemetery at the foot of the castle hill to commemorate the fallen of the Second World War. And we become aware of the real purpose of the European Youth Week. For only by bringing people together we can reduce prejudices and contribute to a peaceful, united Europe.
In the afternoon we continue with the big closing event. The audience and we get the opportunity again to marvel at the highlights of all programs. Even if a rain shower temporarily drives us into the Meissnersaal, it does not detract from the good mood. Choir and orchestra show together what can be done together this week and the hall is shaken by an Irish “Hey ya!”. Finally, the flags are retrieved, the children carry the European banner on the stage and it sounds once again our hymn “Viva Europa”. This ends the official part. On the last evening there is a big graduation party. The key and the spirit of Euro Week are safely kept and the courtyard turns into a disco. Everyone is dancing and partying until late at night.
The next morning begins the big farewell. Many tears flow and it becomes clear that we did something right. From these different groups a community has emerged, a growing family. And that makes the concept of the European Youth Week so unique. It’s more than just a folklore festival. And we, the members of the working group, are very happy and a bit proud to be able to contribute anew each year.
In this sense,