What is Schlaraffia?
Once every week from October through April the members of Schlaraffia gather at their meeting place, which they call their ‘Castle’. They dress up with colorful mantles covered with even more colorful patches, or drape a sash covered with small metal pins over their shoulders, put a kind of jester-
The fourth component: The Friendship
The fourth and considered most important component of Schlaraffia is ‘Friendship’! Originally this component was not specifically emphasized since the founders were all friends. When Schlaraffia started to expand and new chapters were formed, the founders realized that they needed besides the original uniting components a tighter brace around their growing organization, and the component of friendship was the natural choice. This had decisive consequences and gave Schlaraffia its durability. It is undisputed that the basic component ‘Friendship’ has held Schlaraffia together over the past 160 years.
There are some substantial reasons for this:
Initially the artistic presentations during the meetings were performed by professional artists, but more and more non-
The bond of friendship is also evident in the profane world beyond the Schlaraffia Play. But the members are also regular humans. Sometimes it can and will happen that it could be difficult to maintain a close friendship with a fellow member also in private. But then the real strength of Schlaraffia’s values and ideals is revealed: the respect for each other and the high threshold for tolerance within Schlaraffia make it possible in such cases to continue playing together the Schlaraffia Play.
The first component: Give and Take
Today we live in a fast-
During their meetings, each member has the opportunity to ride his hobby horse, or show other talents. Often a member is inclined to show his painting, play an instrument, recite a poem, or speak about an interesting scientific subject, and with this he delights the other members and broadens their knowledge and mind. This mutual Give and Take is always performed with the highest degree of tolerance, mutual understanding and refreshing encouragement. They all participate in the play, even those, who are just listening. Wisely, subjects like politics, religion, or business are banned from the meetings. Every performance or contribution of the members to the meeting is being lauded by the meeting’s chairman, and the audience thanks with humorous comments and applause. Everything presented, amateurish or professional, is being acknowledged and accepted with much approval and praise. The meetings of Schlaraffia are a constant Give and Take.
The second component: The Game of Chivalry
The mutual Give and Take has been embedded into a second component of the Schlaraffia Play: ‘The Medieval Game of Chivalry’, or better described as the parody of it. When Schlaraffia was founded during the midst of the 19. century there was a great enthusiasm for the seemingly romantic Middle Ages amongst the bourgeois population, and, in particular, for the medieval chivalry and knights. It was obvious for the founders to fall back to the courtly rituals of those times, also easily satisfying their appetite for satire and persiflage. Schlaraffia’s pseudo-
Today’s members of Schlaraffia meet in ‘Castles’, they wear ‘Armor’, they developed their own pseudo-
The third component: Arts and Humor
’Give and Take’ and the pseudo ‘Game of Chivalry’ alone would not differentiate the Schlaraffia Play from an amateur theatrical play, would there not be an additional third and important component: the cultivation of the ‘Arts and Humor’. This component defines the standard and level of the entire play. “In Arte Voluptas” – “Pleasure lies in the Arts” -
Humor and a smirking seriousness characterize all artistic presentations. For Schlaraffia humor is smiling pityingly at the frailty of human nature and, in particular, at one’s own shortcomings. It is an affirmative answer to life as well as to joy. Their humor has nothing to do with telling jokes; the humor is not ponderous and not offending. It has its roots in the warmth of the individual’s heart following their motto: ‘the heart goes with it!’ Ceremoniously with a mischievous twinkle in their eyes they honor each other’s performances with cheap tin medals, accompanied by humorous remarks. They fight spirited duels where the weapons of choice are their sharp tongues. Here all the stops of the play are pulled and only wit and brilliant brains rule. The cultivation of the Arts and Humor transforms Schlaraffia into the land of intellect and soul.