Where: Heide, Dithmarschen, North Germany
When: Autumn, during the harvest
What’s it About: Homage to the humble cabbage, a medieval harvest celebration
Go There For: A date amongst the lettuces with the crowned Cabbage Queen, or perhaps a Gourmet Cabbage meal.
Where’s the Party?
Dithmarschen is centre of the largest cabbage-growing region in Europe and every year, the city of Heide hosts the biggest cabbage festival in the country. 80 million cabbages are lifted yearly in Dithmarschen. If you laid them back to back, they would reach from the north pole to the south pole. And if you like cabbages, this is the place to come.
The celebrations take place in different villages in the Dirthmarschen area and the dates vary. Contact the Hamburg tourist office who can put you in touch with the relevant local tourist offices.
What Happens at Dithmarschen Cabbage Days?
The locals love this festival. They won’t hesitate to sing the praises of their beloved vegetable, and if you are lucky, you’ll probably get invited to taste some of their local specialities like cabbage liquor or cabbage bread. There’s as much cabbage to eat as you can muster, you can even participate in a five course gourmet cabbage dinner!
A Cabbage Queen is selected from the many participants in historic costumes, and a giant cabbage pyramid, a mini mountain, is installed in a large field, so large that a crane is needed to add the final cabbage to the summit. If the pyramid falls, it’s a bad omen for the year’s cabbage harvest.
Sauerkraut: Pickled Cabbage
It’s amazing what you can do with cabbage, from cabbage roles and oysters with red cabbage to the world known sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is a pickled cabbage dish which has been a German staple for centuries – despite beliefs that it actually originated either in China in the 3rd century BC or in Ancient Greece. The Chinese shredded it and preserved it in rice wine before serving it to labourers building the Great Wall.
Cabbage has been grown as a cheap staple in Germany since Roman times, but as it was fed to the lowly ranks of the army it was seen considered a food of little importance or nutritional value. Today, we know that cabbage lowers cholesterol levels and is rich in minerals, specially iron.