Here are four proud men walking though the village of Apold, on their way to church. They are dressed in ‘kirchenpelz’ (church fleece), heavily embroidered and appliqued coats worn by the Saxon Lutherans each Sunday. They certainly didn’t feel the cold in winter, sitting in the cool interior of the church.
Getting ready for the church service was a lengthy procedure. Women and girls would re plait their hair before adorning themselves with beautiful and exquisitely embroidered silk ribbons on the headdresses of their costumes.
My aunt Josie, who was rather stern but delightful at the same time, would line up the men in her life (husband and three sons) and check their necks had been scrubbed clean before putting on freshly starched white shirts beneath their kirchenpelz.
This inspection amused any onlookers and the young children of the family could be heard sniggering (out of Josie’s reach) secretly hoping she’d find a grubby neck.
Inside the fortified church, on the simple wooden benches, there was a seating order for the congregation. The village girls would sit in the middle rows, followed by young ladies and behind them sat the older women. Boys and young men would make their way upstairs and the older men would stay in the seats downstairs. I would have thought the younger boys would have been better seated downstairs where they could have had a close eye kept on them, thus preventing any bad behaviour! The oldest men of the community would sit in the seats closest to the rear entrance. This area was referred to as the ‘cellar of the elderly’. Seating to the immediate left and right of the alter was reserved for the pastor or priest and elected senior leaders of the church community, the ‘Presbyterium’
Following the service, there would be a little gossiping and catching up between the villagers, at the foot of the steep steps that led up to the church. When the family gathered back home, a special treat was in store. The best china cups (from England and decorated with pink roses) came out of the oak cabinet. We would all enjoy a cup of Nescafe coffee (also from England, brought over in bulk!), accompanied by my aunt Katharina’s amazing and deliciously warm doughnuts, fresh from the pan.