Alan Sorensen Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Germany was the toast of the day Oct. 12 at Northern Montana Care Center but it was toasted with apple jui c e rathe r than t radi t i onal Oktoberfest beer. The October event, attended by about 50 outsiders and 45 care center residents, included German-style attire, German singing and German dancing for young and old. Men and boys were clad in lederhosen, the traditional short leather pants held up by suspenders with a leather or deer horn swath across the chest to hold the two vertical straps together, and the women a n d g i r l s wo r e t h e i r b e s t approximations of dirndl, traditional dresses. The men covered their legs in strmpfe and the women wore wadelstrmpfe. Ilsa Wagner, a paid volunteer at the care center, helped organize the event with her sister, Inga Goebel, NMCC activity coordinator Ila McClenahan and others. Wagner said Bob and Gen Kaftan and their five grandchildren, whose cos tumes were made by thei r grandmother, attended in traditional garb. “Bo b ’ s wi f e a n d t h e f i ve grandchildren did the Hansel and Gretel dance,” Wagner said. “It was just adorable.” She added that the men and women and boys and girls exchanged cookie hearts and pretzels. The cookies and pretzels come with strings through them so they can be looped around the neck and worn like necklaces. “It’s a traditional thing,” Wagner said. “You go to the Oktoberfest over there and you buy a gingerbread heart, it has sweet nothings written on it. You give this to your girl and she can eat this, the girl of your dreams, or she can wear it or she can hang it over her bed at night and dream about you.” Wagner said Goebel made the hearts out of a type of sugar cookie instead of gingerbread cookies because gingerbread is too hard to bite and chew. “The guys are given the pretzels by the ladies because pretzels go good with beer,” she added. The drink of the day, however, was apple juice, which bears a resemblance to beer, but without the head. Jewelry, such as pins and brooches bearing images of eidelweiss, was everywhere. Eidelweiss, a popular Alpine flower, also adorned the men’s attire. The event began at 2:30 p.m. with some German natives talking about their homeland. “We talked about the traditions, what people do growing up over there and ended with Christmas,” Wagner said. “Oktoberfest was a thank you’ when the harvest was brought in.’” McClenahan said the care center will hold a similar ethnic day each month throughout the winter and spring, culminating with American day on July 4. “We want to have the residents identify with their ethnic heritage,” McClenahan said. The next ethnic day will be Native American day on Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m. Lacy Horn, an activity aide at the care center originally f r om Fo r t Be l k n a p , i s organizing the Native American activities. She said the event will include dancing by her fa t h e r, Bu d d y Ho r n , a traditional dancer from Fort Belknap, and the telling of traditions. She said bead work and a s tar qui l t wi l l be displayed and traditional music will be played. “We’ll cook some food,” Horn said. “Fry bread and hangover soup it’s like a macaroni and hamburger stew.” McClenahan said Native American day i s special because the care center is home to s even o r e ight residents from Fort Belknap and many more from Rocky Boy. Horn and McClenahan said anyone who would like to help with the Native American event in any way is welcome to call them at 262-1956. Among the other ethnic day celebrations planned are Norwegian day in December, Black Americans during Black American History Month in January, Chinese day i n February, Irish day in March because of St. Patrick’s Day, Czech day in April, Hispanic day in May and Italian day in June. McClenahan said other nationalities high on the list for future days are Filipino and Japanese. She added that another, nonethnic day event is planned. “We have a big veterans thing coming up,” she said. “We have about 30 veterans. All the third-graders will come.” She said ribbons would be handed out and that retired Navy chaplin John Chapman will attend in his uniform.