A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

The Sleep

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

          The night's rest lasted 8-10 hours in the winter.  Older people have already slept for about 6 hours by midnight so naturally they have had enough sleep.  Not so for the children who sleep "around the clock."  In the summer the night's rest amounted to 4-5 hours.  In the old days beds were so high that a stool was often necessary to get into the bed.  The under bed consisted of an enormous filled straw sack over which there was a chaff sack with a radiant hemp sheet.  A chaff pillow and a feather pillow served for under the head.  One covers up with a large bedding "Bettzich" much too heavily filled with feathers which prevent the body from perspiring.  So one does not take off the socks and goes to bed  with the same underwear that was worn all day.  Unfortunately many still do today.  Here there is only one room where the whole family sleeps, often also married children. Husband and wife sleep in the wide couple's bed which was provided with curtains and was the so-called "Himmelbett" (4 poster bed).  The curtains on the Himmelbett were also necessary because the low windows offered a free view in the room to all the passers-by on the street, especially when the lamp burned in the evening.  On the windows there were no curtains, venetian blinds, (Schalusienen?), shutters, or even the wooden blinds like today.  One could observe someone exactly as he enjoyed himself watching a neighbor and during this no one was disturbed around him.  

          Children often slept four in a bed.  There was also the need for a (Schuberbettladen?) for children's prayers, which was pushed under the bed in the morning.  The youths who outgrew school found a horse stable to sleep in, often in a hammock.  When these boys were older they sought permission to stay out late in the evening.  In the stable they enjoyed themselves by smoking and playing.  The big boys slept in the stables with pride.  They felt independent and considered anyone who slept in a clean room as soft.  Today the farmer's son no longer sleeps in the stable.  During the summer the farmer sleeps on the walkway with his pistol beside him.

          The beds today are lower.  Each individual also already has a mattress and also quilts in the summer, known only as "Paplan" by us.  Also there are feather under blankets which are just as unhygienic as the heavy "Bettzichen."  Almost everywhere each family member now has his own bed, or arranged to be on such a wide bench every evening.  But it is highly reprehensible that in some homes 4-6 people sleep in 2 beds in the kitchen while the beds were not touched in the spacious room.    

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2020 2003 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation.
Webmaster: Jody McKim Pharr
Keeping the Danube Swabian legacy alive!