Monday, March 14, 2011


So Luxembourg has this festival. Beurgbrennen.

For all intents and purposes it's your standard pagan-holiday-turned-semi-religious-after-Christianity-came-to-Europe kind of holiday. The entire community comes out, lights a big pile of old Christmas trees on fire, and celebrates the 'burning away of winter' and the welcoming of spring.

There's just one little catch. That pile of dried up Christmas trees? It's arranged in the shape of a cross.

Yup, once a year, every Luxembourgish village burns a giant cross.

For Americans this is a little unsettling: that kind of iconography is burned (ha, get it?) into our brains to represent hate. But here? Burning crosses mean only one thing - Beurgbrennen.

Over the weekend I went with Cafe Lux to a small village on the Mosel, and sat on the rocks, drinking beer, watching the end of another winter go up in flames. It felt warm and cozy - and not just because a pile of wood roughly the size of a house was burning five yards away from us. You couldn't help but feel the magic of standing together, with loved ones, watching the passage of time.

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