By Adam Martini
Translation by son, Hans Martini
[Trenton Donauschwaben Nachtrichten, Jan-March
the everyday life of the Donauschwaben, the winter
months were always full of meaning. The short days
and long nights were ideal for the slow rhythms of
village life. This was in stark contrast to the
summer season, where work consumed practically all of
one's waking hours. Winter was a time for
reflection, a time where one could breathe freely again.
Among other things, the cold season meant it was time
for butchering fatted pigs; partaking of culinary
favorites like sausage soup; even the newly made wine
could now be sampled. Life was good and most
everyone was content.
Men would often find their way to the local tavern where
cards were played. Some of their favorite games
were "Ziechmariasch" and "Ramscheln". The women
would visit with friends and relatives. Such
socializing was called "maja" in our town and one could
be sure that all of the local news would be exchanged -
and all while sewing or knitting. There were also many
opportunities for children to be part of the action.
One of these I best remember was the New Year's
The New Year's tradition of visiting relatives and
friends to extend best wishes was the same in Austria as
it was in our area of southeastern Europe, if I am not
mistaken. We children had a list of people whom we
would call on to wish the best for the New Year.
For this, we would get money and sometimes a gift as
well. Of course, for us the money was a huge plus!
The coins would be thrown into our "money bag" with a
noisy jingle, bringing the person good luck. Money
was such a rarity for children back then that it was
only spent with the greatest care and was always treated
with the utmost respect. Of course, we would also enjoy
seeing who could collect the most!
New Year's was such a wonderful time for all of us back
then. In retrospect, I see so many good reasons to
have this type of interaction between young and old.
It was not just the money although for us it seemed so
at the time. Direct contact between young and old
just was not part of normal everyday life. The New
Year's handshake with an adult, looking them in the eye
and reciting a verse or two was an important and
life-affirming experience. And so it was back
Today, however, money seems to mean far less than it did
for children back then. Surely it is because there
is so much more of it and that even children have little
trouble getting a hold of it. One does not speak
of saving, or of gratitude and contentment as much as
one speaks of more and faster, all with the least amount
of effort. This lack of appreciation often
insinuates itself into a life style that is often less
With this in mind, let me take this opportunity to segue
from the Donauschwaben of yesteryear to our
Donauschwaben club here in Trenton. Our
organization has always considered the making of money
as a necessity, not as a way to obtain profit.
That is why our active members are not paid although
they do the work that allows our club to exist. It
is a completely unselfish and most generous thing they
do. All of our guests should know that the dollars
they spend for their dinners are dollars that are for
the upkeep of the club only. Maybe that is why our
club continues to enjoy that "just like home" feeling,
where the food is good and the atmosphere is cordial and
Please continue to support your club. Come to the
dinners and participate whenever and wherever possible.
The doors are open to anyone interested in our
German/Donauschwaben culture. We continue to be a
refreshing alternative to an otherwise money-centered
and overly materialistic world.
at the Donauschwaben Treffen!