Matthiae meal

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The Matthiae meal (often just as the Matthiae meal , historically referred to as the convivium of an honorable council ) in Hamburg is "the oldest still celebrated feast in the world". It has existed since 1356 and always takes place around February 24th in the great ballroom of Hamburg's town hall . Between 1724 and 1956 the meal did not take place, probably for reasons of cost.


The meal is based on Matthiae Day, which heralded the medieval beginning of spring every year on February 24th. It was also the day of the change of servants and weather rules were drawn up and oracles were performed. On this special day, the tasks in the Senate were redistributed and a new First Mayor was elected.

It has traditionally become the custom to invite representatives of the Hamburg-friendly powers. H. foreign ministers and other distinguished guests. A knife was discovered to them as a sign of courtoisie (knightly behavior), because in the 14th century people usually ate with their fingers. Trout, roast capon , saddle of venison , veal quarters and almond milk as well as beer and wine were served every year .

From 1622 women were also allowed to eat. Until the gentlemen asked them to dance, however, they had to dine in a separate hall.

Since the beginning of the meal, there has always been a German and a foreign guest of honor, usually the imperial and the Dutch ambassador . For many years in the 18th century a song was composed especially for the meal, among others by Reinhard Keizer in 1711 or by Georg Philipp Telemann in 1724 .


The Matthiae meal served and serves as a gathering of representatives from the nobility and politics. Recently, in addition to representatives from local politics and business, sport and society, all honorary citizens of Hamburg , all former first mayors and consuls resident in Hamburg and their companions have traditionally been invited. The festival is held annually for 400 to 600 guests.

The “Hamburger Silberschatz” is still open for the Matthiae meal today. Table centerpieces, cups and bowls made of silver donated by senators and their families as well as representatives of the powers that be friendly to Hamburg are part of the table decorations. Gifts from the numerous guests of honor are also displayed. Particularly noteworthy is the "Holbein Cup" donated by King Edward VII from 1904. It always adorns the plaque of honor.

In general, the Matthiae meal is dominated by the centuries-old protocol of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. In particular, this has stipulated since 1538 that the mayor always receives his guests of honor on top of the senate stairs, since historically a Hamburg mayor should never hold the stirrups to a guest of honor who had traveled on horseback.

Guests of honor

The mayor of Hamburg still asks several guests of honor every year, including a foreign guest of honor to attend the meal. The guests of honor always sign the city's golden book , as required by the protocol .

In 1994 there was a scandal: the keynote speaker for the evening was then Estonian President Lennart Meri . When the latter spoke in his speech that Russia was striving to regain supremacy in the East, Vladimir Putin , then Vice Mayor of Hamburg's twin city St. Petersburg , loudly left the room. Only once in its more than 429-year history has a guest of honor canceled his participation: Italy's then Prime Minister Romano Prodi stayed away from the event in 2007. The reason for this was not, as originally assumed, the domestic political crisis in Italy , but his demand not to allow the press for reporting. Italy's ambassador to Berlin, Antonio Puri Purini, took over at short notice .

For the Matthiae-Mahl 2020 on February 28, 2020, the Senate Chancellery has announced NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as guests of honor.

The guests of honor were among others:

Other guests of honor in the past few decades have included Diana and Charles (Crown Prince Couple of the United Kingdom).


The total cost of the banquet is around 100,000 euros each year. In 2013, for example, the total amount of 104,226.15 euros was divided into around 30,000 euros for food and drinks, 6,500 euros for flowers, around 40,000 euros for personnel costs and around 17,000 euros for other items such as transport services and translators.


In an interview with Die Zeit 2012, the former mayor Ole von Beust criticized the meaningfulness of the meal. During his tenure, in a guest post for Die Welt, he described the meal as “advertising our city in the best sense”. Die Linke Hamburg criticizes the Matthiae meal as an “elite feed”, which stands in stark contrast to the problems of the city.


  • Eduard Meyer: The Eimbecksche House in Hamburg . W. Maucke Sons, Hamburg 1868, p. 40 ff . ( ).

Individual evidence

  1. a b The meal of St. Matthias. FHH on, accessed on January 20, 2019 : “ Hamburgers have been celebrating the Matthiae meal with their guests since 1356. This makes it the world's oldest feast that is still celebrated today. A historical arrangement stipulates that the Matthiae meal only takes place "when times allow it". After 1724, the celebration was suspended for over 200 years, but the reasons for this break are unknown. "
  2. Dagmar Seifert: In June 1350 death lands on the Elbe. (No longer available online.) In: Der Hamburger (issue 04). The Hamburger Verlag-Die Stadtmedienmanufaktur GmbH, 2009, archived from the original on August 18, 2017 ; accessed on January 20, 2019 : " In February 1356 Hamburg celebrated the Matthiae Mahl for the first time, a meal at council expense, which has since become the oldest still celebrated feast in the world, because it takes place - from a" small ", cost-related break between 1724 and 1956 apart - until today it has been held year after year. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. a b c d Marc-Oliver Rehrmann: A dinner like in the Middle Ages. NDR , February 11, 2016, accessed on January 19, 2019 .
  4. Matthiae-Mahl 2018: Excerpt from the guest list , FHH on, accessed on January 20, 2019
  5. Rejection of Hamburg's Matthiae meal: Prodi set conditions - no press! , Hamburger Abendblatt dated February 23, 2007, accessed January 20, 2019
  6. Matthiae-Mahl 2020 , of January 7, 2020, accessed on February 16, 2020
  7. Matthiae-Mahl is gluttony of self-lovers , Welt Online from June 22, 2012, accessed on January 20, 2019
  8. ^ Sabine Boeddinghaus : Matthiae-Mahl: Decadent elite feeding. Left parliamentary group Hamburg, February 8, 2016, accessed on January 20, 2019 .

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