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August Becker: Excerpts from The Palatinate and the Palatines (1858)

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gau, city customs, city clothing, and city style have long predominated. The "cuff-link peasantry," the transition to a completely urban person, is particularly developed here. Such Palatine “cuff-link peasants” could today count as embodying Palatinate traditions. They are the real Palatines. Their houses receive the city touch, their parlors are painted and are hung with copper engravings, and the whitewash and the brown beams in between on the street gables are gradually disappearing. What pertains to the whole of the Vorderpfalz, though, is the smart appearance of all the villages. The Palatines want to live comfortably and in beauty. Every family father has his own house with a courtyard and outbuildings. Even if the house were spacious and had enough room in its two stories, no person of the Vorderpfalz would make a casual decision to share his house, not even with his married son. The position of women is reflective of a higher culture in these wine regions, indeed in all of the Palatinate, though in Westrich, women more frequently do men’s work. Women do not casually take up the whip and certainly not the flail, as they would in Old Bavaria. One never sees a women in a wheelbarrow, or for that matter in a pub, as one would, again, especially see in Old Bavaria. The Palatine women in general let the men take care of the men’s duties by eagerly applying themselves to their own work, and they have long been known as capable housewives. They also leave the drinking to the men, who admittedly then sometimes drink twice as much. Wine may also have the biggest influence on the character of these people. Because of wine, the men of the Palatine wine country have a short temper, and their pride and sense of honor are easily wounded. To correct numerous claims to the contrary, they are as quick with their fists as they are with their mouths. Added to this though is their inherent sense of decency and good manners, the bounds of which are much less frequently crossed than in other places. From the edge of the mountains to deep into the plains, the Palatine husbandman drinks wine at work and at meals, and he does this year round. The daily wage laborers would not do this type of work if they did not get their glasses or at least half glasses of wine (big Palatine glasses!) with every snack, and that on hot summer days. Especially the workers in the vineyards themselves drain many cartloads of Palatine wine every year. For this reason, they eat less, and truly contradict the famous saying that beer nourishes and wine depletes.

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