The „Seehasenfest“ and the „Seehas“
Children‘s and Folk Festival in Friedrichshafen
How the festival began
After Friedrichshafen had been almost completely destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, it was felt that the children in particular, should be able to celebrate a festival of joy and hope again. Thanks to the great commitment of the then municipal council, led by Mayor Dr. Max Grünbeck, as well as Konstantin Schmäh, the father of the Seehas, and the active support of the schools and many committed citizens, the Friedrichshafen Seehasenfest finally had its premiere on 25 July 1949.
The “Seehas” is the main character of the festival and represents the festival at numerous public events. The naming of the festival turned out to be quite simple, because since time immemorial people living near the shores of Lake Constance have been called “Seehasen”. So it was an obvious choice for the town fathers in 1949. Where the origin of the name “Seehasen” lies, one can only guess: it was possibly a jumping field hare, which can be seen on the field sign of the Roman castle Constantia (Constance).
Collecting the Seehas
Collecting the Seehas by ship has been taking place since 1950. The guests of honour, together with numerous children and citizens, sail out onto Lake Constance on three passenger ships on festival Saturday to bring in the Seehas. He is then greeted in the harbour with salute shots from the Civic Guard and after that makes his way to the town hall to present the first-graders of all Friedrichshafen schools with the
“Hasenklee” (rabbit clover) which is a cloth bag filled with sweets, carousel vouchers and toys. This tradition was founded in 1955.
The Festival Programme
The Seehasenfest opens on Thursday evening with traditional drumming as well as a theatre performance by the students of a Friedrichshafen school.
On the following festival days, there is a variety of sporting competitions such as football tournaments, crossbow shooting, ball
throwing and the traditional water jousting, plus various theatre performances characterising this children‘s and folk festival.
On Saturday evening, under the motto “Romantic Night on the Lake”, people meet for the impressive fireworks, which are ignited from two ships moored near the waterfront.
The highlight of the Seehasenfest, however, has always been the colourful parade on Sunday. In addition to the Seehas and the many children, the focus is also on the city‘s history and the scenery around Lake Constance. More than 4,500 school children in colourful costumes, imaginatively designed floats, drummers, marching bands and fanfare processions parade through the town’s streets together with the Seehas.
The Seehas attends all the various events during the festival days. He participates in the ecumenical church service, is the centre of the parade and visits the fairground and the festival mile. He presents trophies to the winners of the sporting competitions and also visits children in Friedrichshafen’s hospital. Everywhere he appears, he lets himself be petted and photographed and brings a smile to the faces of both children
The Seehasenfest ends on Monday evening, when the Seehas is waved goodbye again.
On Monday, the Seehasenfest draws to a close and the time to say goodbye to the Seehas approaches. While the children cheerfully bid him farewell waving green and white flags, the special folk song is sung. Finally, the Seehas is presented with a basket of fresh carrots and goes back out to the middle of the lake on a boat belonging to the water police.