Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Heiligenstadt’s Palm Sunday Procession
The Palm Sunday Procession of Heiligenstadt is a religious parade, which takes place annually on Sunday before Easter and moves a determined, traditional way through the town’s streets. In the procession six larger-than-life statues are carried on sticks or frames.
Facts & figures
Crucial date: Sunday before Easter
Domains: social practices, rituals and festive events
Where to find: Heilbad Heiligenstadt
In the procession six larger-than-life statues are carried on sticks or frames. They recall Christ’s way of the Cross. Believers walk between the statues and sing religious songs supported by marching bands. The songs are also about Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
Preparations run a week before the procession when voluntary members of the Catholic parish St. Marien fasten the statues to the sticks and frames and dress them in robes. Preparations as well as the procession itself are organized by so called “Bildführern” (image leaders). During the procession men dressed in black wearing white gloves and toppers carry the statues. All the honorary posts are passed on from generation to generation, mostly within families.
Every year many participants and audience members travel to Heiligenstadt to experience the big procession. Heiligenstadt is located in the Thuringian district Eichsfeld, which is the only fairly big, cohesively catholic area in Middle Germany with structures of the people’s church. The procession contributes significantly to sustaining the region’s unique cultural and confessional character. Also during the Nazi and GDR times, the Palm Sunday Procession of Heiligenstadt continuously existed.