Treppe fegen oder Klinken putzen

Germany is just riddled with traditions for every occasion; Birthdays, Christmas, New Years, First day of School.  Any momentous day you can think of, most likely, the Germans have a traditional way to celebrate.  Germans are so into their traditions that they even have a tradition for an event that doesn’t occur!  People, especially in this day and age, when choosing a partner to marry, like to take their time and shop around.  However, Germans, the organized punctual people they are, have a deadline for when they believe a one should be married!

Treppe fegen oder Klinken putzen
If a man turns 30, and is not yet married, he must sweep the steps of city hall, a town square, a church, a courthouse, or even a bridge.  He must perform this duty until he is freed by the kiss of an unmarried woman.  The sweeping comes from an old belief that men who have dodged their duty to marry and have children will have to perform tedious chores in the afterlife.

Women aren’t safe from this tradition either!  If a woman is not married by 30, she must go around town on her birthday polishing the doorhandles of every door in town.  The only way to stop the madness is if an unmarried man frees her with a kiss.  Polishing the door handles represents polishing the handle of the covenant door as a way to beg for entry.
In current times, the tradition isn’t a way to pressure these 30 year olds into marriage.  It is more for fun.  It is especially fun for the victims friends who are allowed to do things such as spread sawdust, or sand on the steps of the town hall or smear toothpaste or Vaseline on the door handles all around town.  It just ensures that the birthday girl or birthday boy have enough work to do!
I’ve never heard of such a tradition until Jan and I visited Lübeck.  There was a man surrounded by laughing bystanders dressed in a pink jump suit and wearing a 30 km/h sign around his neck, sweeping up bottle caps.  Every time that he was just about finished, one of the giggling spectators would dump out the bucket of bottle caps, forcing the 30 year old to start all over again!
Sweeping up the competition!

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