Osnabrück Schnatgang

The Osnabrück Schnatgang

Olle use (All ours in Osnabrück Low German dialect) – these are the traditional words that participants of the Osnabrück Schnatgang use to greet each other. Every seven years, the Heger Laischaft (a self-governing neighborhood around the Heger Gate, founded during the Middle Ages) celebrates the custom of the Schnatgang together with a folk festival in Osnabrück's old town.

What does all this mean? Schnat – that is the Plattdeutsch word for border. So it's kind of a border crossing. In the 16th century, the citizens of Osnabrück formed these self-governing communities so as to jointly cultivate lands outside the city walls. To make the exact demarcations and authorizations clear to everyone, regular patrols (Gang) were carried out. Some pretty brutal measures were taken so that young people of the next generation would remember the positions of the boundary stones for a long time. Face slapping was one of the more harmless rituals. Sometimes the young peasants were held by the arms and legs and the seats of their pants were thumped hard onto the stones. The pain was supposed to make them remember the landmarks even better.

During the course of the 19th century, the Schnatgangs (border patrols) developed more and more into traditional festivals. In 2025, the participants will once again journey together from the town hall through the lovingly decorated old town and the Heger Tor gate into the Heger Holz forest area. Luckily for everyone involved, the boundary stone ritual is then dispensed with. A symbolic slap in the face is, however, still part of the program today, which – as tradition demands – is carried out entirely in Plattdeutsch.However, the Haiger Laischaft ist still very active today! Their main area of responsibility is the preservation of the forest areas in the western part of the city of Osnabrück, which is largely surrounded by urban areas.


Photo: Heger Laischaft

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