When the bells fly to Rome
Source: Newspaper "Unkeler Zeitung"

Traditional "Easter Clattering"

When church bells all over the world fall silent for three days after the "Gloria" during the mass the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to remind everyone of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, that's when more and more villages revive an old tradition: Easter Clattering. This is done not only by clatter-boys, but also by clatter-girls. Most of the young people that perform the clattering serve as altar servants as well.

Unkel's clattering Clattering girls and boys

Utilizing ratchets, wooden boards that bang against each other, or wooden bobbins they walk through the streets of their villages from Good Friday until Easter Sunday three times a day (morning, noon, and evening) and 'substitute' the church bells with the wooden tools. In Erpel the clattering boys and girls walk the streets even every half hour between sunrise and sunset.

Figuratively the bells are no longer there: they have 'flown' to Rome or even Jericho. When during the Easter Night Vigil the bells all over the world start chiming again during the "Gloria" with a celebratory "Halleluja" the clattering had stopped a few hours before. It cannot be determined, if the clattering is a Christian tradition. Sure is, however, that all church bells fall silent during Easter time to remind specifically of the excruciating passion of Christ.

All villages of Unkel's community of villages (Bruchhausen, Erpel, and Unkel) see these clattering boys and girls, who call everybody to church with their 'bell substitutes'. Not only in the Unkel's village community, but also in Linz more and more young people take part in this tradition.

Text and photo: Hans-Joachim Röder