While Sam and I are returning to West Pines today to bring smiles to mental health patients, I really wish I were in Hamburg, Germany. One of the most iconic symbols associated with this northern German port city. The Wasserträger Statue, has a colorful historic legend associated with it.
Before the city of Hamburg introduced the local water system in 1848, Wasserträgen (literal translation: “carrying water”) was a popular profession. One of those water bearers became part of local legend.
Johann Heinrich Bentz in was born in 1787 and was called Hans Hummel by local citizens. It’s believed that Bentz acquired the nickname once he moved into the former apartment of soldier Daniel Christian Hummel upon his death. The original Hummel was well-loved by the local children for his kind nature and thrilling war stories. The children teased the ‘new’ Hummel who was described as somewhat ill-tempered and grumpy compared to the ‘real’ Hummel and began taunting him with ‘Hummel, Hummel’ whenever he passed by with his filled buckets. Local folklore suggested some of the children mooned him knowing he couldn’t chase them with his heavy load. Hummel’s response was to yell back in the Low German dialect of Plattdeutsch, ‘Mors, Mors!’ a blue phrase which roughly translates to kiss my ‘you-know-what.’
Hummel lost his job in 1848 and died six years later in a poorhouse. But since that time, the phrase ‘Hummel, Hummel!’ and its response, ‘Mors, Mors!’ have been a popular salute in Hamburg. There is even a sports connection with the phrase. When one of the city’s two popular football teams (HSV) scores a goal, the stadium announcer calls the name of the scorer, then ‘Hummel, Hummel!’ to which the crowd replies, ‘Mors, Mors!’
Hamburg used to be home to many of these colourful statues and were spread throughout the city. An outdoor city-wide exhibition took place until 2006 after which most of the pieces were sold to private collectors. The proceeds were donated to Hamburg’s homeless. There are a few remaining colorful figures still around the city, though they are mostly found near the Rathaus, (city hall).
We’re moving closer to our favorite day, Friday but till then, ‘Hummel, Hummel!’
Live, love, bark! 🐾