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Various noise instruments when ratcheting
The sound of six box ratchets
Wall bell at the sacristy portal, shut down by winding the bell.

The ratchets , in some areas also Räppeln , Karsingen , rattle , rattle (also ponies, Kliäppern), rasps, Schledern, Kläpstern, Klibberen, carts, Lören, Garren or Klacheln (the latter especially in eastern Austria), in the Rhon Klapper sparrows called is a custom that is maintained in Catholic areas during Holy Week . Children (mostly acolytes ) move through the streets of the villages and districts with wooden noise instruments to remind the believers of the times of prayer and church services with different sayings . The ratchet is a wooden scraper , but other designs are also used.

The ratcheting during Holy Week was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in Austria in 2015 .

Background and occasions

A religious turns the Good Friday ratchet

According to tradition, the bells or their tongues, the clappers , are silent from Maundy Thursday after the Gloria of Mass, the Last Supper, the entire Good Friday and Holy Saturday up to the Gloria on Easter Vigil , because they all "flown to Rome" for confession or rice porridge . Since the church bells mostly express a festive mood, it is not appropriate to ring them during the time of Jesus' rest in the grave. In order to continue the angelus ringing, it is loudly replaced by rattling or rattling at 6 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Good Friday liturgy, which usually takes place at 3 p.m., and the Way of the Cross , which is often taken in the morning, are also announced and called out in good time.

Also within the liturgy the ratchets or rattles are used instead of the altar bells (bells), e.g. B. at the processions with the holy of holies on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

The custom can still be found today in Bavaria , Austria , Luxembourg , Val Gardena (Italy), the Palatinate , the Rhön , in Eichsfeld , on the Moselle , in Saarland , in the Eifel , in the Rhineland , in the Hunsrück , in Catholic areas of Baden-Württemberg and in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia .

There are also such parades in the Christian cities in the Holy Land ( Israel and West Bank ), but without ratcheting. There the boy scouts parade through the streets with drums.

The leader of a group Klapper, usually the eldest, is regionally rattling master or Vorklapperer called.


Monument in front of the Münsterschwarzach Abbey

In Sebastian Franck's "Weltbuch" published in Tübingen in 1534, the clattering on folio cxxxi (recto) is mentioned as an Easter custom:

"With a knocking cart you make vn vil boards in which instead of around / the people call the churches for passion."


Ratchet or räppel
Rasp from the Belgian Eifel ( Aldringen )

The following noise instruments are mainly used:

  • The ratchet , or räppel, is a solid sound box made of wood (e.g. oak or maple ) that is approximately 30 cm long. A crank is used to set a roller with cams in motion, lifting strips of wood (e.g. ash wood ) which, when they snap back, generate the characteristic sound from which the name of the instrument is derived.
  • The rattle is a little hammer that - similar to a hand bell - strikes a wooden strip and makes a rattling sound.
  • The rasp , an instrument that is moved by vigorous rotation, with a very thin wooden plate purring over the teeth of a wooden gearwheel as it rotates.

Verses when moving

Children ratcheting during Holy Week

One of the sayings that were shouted and then accompanied by violent noise reads:

"We rattle, we rattle the English greeting (= angel's greeting) that every Catholic Christian must pray."

The rattling boys and today also rattling girls have to get up very early if they want to keep the first appointment at 6 a.m. If a potential registered rattle overslept , he was rattled out in front of his house and mocked

XY, get up to pray,
we've all started.

On Holy Saturday (different from region to region) the rattle wages were collected. The rattle group went from house to house and collected Easter eggs, money and sweets. The rattle saying then read:

We have rattled for the Holy Sepulcher
and ask for a gentle gift .

In the Rhön town of Poppenhausen (Wasserkuppe) it is still said today that "the eggs are flapped out". With the slogan: “We have watched the Holy Sepulcher and ask for a benevolent gift”, altar servers (now also girls) come to the front doors. In addition to the original natural produce, the rattle boys collect money for their laborious service. It used to be the custom here for the sexton to get an egg from each of the twelve boys.

A little saying is also recited on the morning of Holy Saturday:

Women, get up to bake cakes.
Hurray, hurray, the cake is rising.

On Easter Vigil, i.e. from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday, young people in Alsdorf (Eifel) march through the village streets with the following singing (in High German):

Get up, get up to the holy grave,
it's about time.
day is already beginning, the day is not far away.
Up, up, dear ones, let the lazy lie,
let them lie in their rest,
we hurry to the holy grave with pleasure!

In a community in the Palatinate Forest, for example, the following sound is heard on Holy Saturday morning:

Wake up, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
The bright day is before your eyes
The bright day that watches over us
God give us a good day
A good day, a happy time
Praise God forever.

There are a number of other regional sayings, some in the local dialect . On the Untermain, for example, before the Good Friday liturgy, the following is called:

We clap and rattle in heaps,
if you want to go to the Kärsch (church) you have to run, run.

In some areas of Middle Franconia there are also the following sayings:

To ring the angel

We clatter to the English greeting that
every Catholic Christian has to pray,
the Ave Maria, gratia plena !

To the ceremonies

Listen, people, this is the first about the ceremonies, ceremonies!

The second group then sings the “second and last” instead of the “first”.

When collecting eggs, people often gossip:

Celebration office, celebration office housewife (or house mo) pack your eggs zam!
Ten, twelve wolves ham!

In the Eifel it is common to shout short words or sentences instead of verses, or to sing in the evening directly before Easter mass. In the morning the call is Morjensglock , Morjensglock loud ( morning bell rings) or Opstohn (getting up), at midday Mähdachsglock (midday bell) or Mättisch (midday), in the evening Nateglock , Owendsglock or Bätglock (night, evening or praying bell); Zesaame is called together before the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil . In the Voreifel the call sung out loud is “The bells are ringing at morning / noon / evening!” It is also customary to just mention the time of day: Et ass Middisch etc.

In the area around Daun the children sing "Mettaach, Honnekraach, iwwermuer os Usterdaach" (noon, cock crow, the day after tomorrow is Easter), the next day "... muer os Usterdach."

In Rivenich they call: Meetisch (noon); Betklock (morning and evening) and then either iwermuer / muer is heilich Ustrdach (the day after tomorrow / tomorrow is holy Easter).

In the Saarland

Morning and evening at prayer

Beetklock, Rosenstock,
if the bell rings loudly then it still rattles [Bedbell, Rosenstock, if it stops ringing then it still rattles!]


Mittach, Mittach, Hohnekrach, Sunndach, Meendach is Osterdach, Osterdach

[noon, noon, cocks cry, Sunday and Monday is Easter day]

As a rule, young people in Saarland go three times to Holy Mass on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday for the Resurrection. They sing along with it: “For the first time” or “for the second time”. The third time the verse reads as follows: "Too haaf, too haaf, whoever wants to go to the church, the laaf."

In other places in Saarland: "Everyone stand up, you dear people, and hurry up to the holy grave." In total there are countless different sayings. Often these are even different within one place.

In Franconian Switzerland, people are called to prayer at 5:30 a.m.:

Uremus, Uremus, now we are slurping the English greeting that
every Christian must offer .
[From Latin Oremus "Let us pray"]


Rhineland and Westphalia

Clatter in Hochkirchen

The tradition in the Rhineland, for example in Hochkirchen and Westphalia , especially in the Archdiocese of Paderborn, is passed on from parents to children. Some rattle boys and girls are altar servers . Some don't have rattles, but ratchets. These devices were inherited from the fathers. There is rattling on both Good Friday and Holy Saturday, namely at 7 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturday mornings, the children go from house to house with a handcart and a collection can and offer Easter greetings in unison. They collect Easter eggs , sweets and money. These things are then distributed by the elder on Holy Saturday.

From Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday, the altar boys from Nottuln roam the congregation with the bulls and visit every house every day. They collect donations and sweets for the acolyte trip after Easter. In the past, old wax was also collected in order to pour the new Easter candle . For the vast peasantry, the altar boys have to leave at four o'clock. Instead of the bells, large instruments are used from the church tower. On Good Friday, Struwen are traditionally eaten together in the parish hall .

In Krefeld-Hüls , the acolytes move through the community with instruments similar to rasps and collect eggs and money as thanks for their services over the past year. The eggs are shared among the acolytes, the money is used for trips and trips.

In Waltrop , on Good Friday and Saturday at 6 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., the youngsters first march around the church three times and then through the streets of the community. Saturday afternoons the Räppler go from door to door and collect eggs and sweets, as well as donations for youth work. Before Easter Night's Liturgy in the church of St. Mary is co ringing also replaced by Räpplern, this is done from the church tower.

In Kaldauen and Braschoss , the altar boys move through the community throughout Holy Week and collect eggs for the agape after Easter vigil. These are cooked and colored together on Good Friday.


In the Hunsrück, the rappels, which are often self-made, are mostly operated by means of a rotary wheel that sets small wooden keys in motion. In the communities, very different exclamations are sometimes shouted.


Easter rattles in the Weinviertel in Ameis on April 15, 2006
Box ratchet in the Neuhaus parish church (municipality of Gaming )

In Austria the custom still lives in many places and even in smaller towns. The customs are mainly cultivated by acolytes, boy scouts and the young crowd .

In September 2015, the Austrian UNESCO Commission included this custom as a ratchet in the Holy Week in the list of national intangible cultural heritage in Austria . The purpose of this designation is a binding protection as a living cultural tradition, the designation is intended to promote the preservation, communication, transmission and further development of traditions. Thereby it was in the sections Orally handed down traditions and forms of expression and social practices, rituals and festivals , but also traditional craft techniques in relation to the construction of the wooden scrap instruments . It was shown for all of Austria.

There is gossip on Good Friday at 6 o'clock (or 7 or 8 o'clock), 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock ("We chatter, we chatter, we chatter the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ"), "first chatter" with everyone Holy Mass (after the first ringing and the ringing together) and at 6 pm for prayer ("We chatter, we chatter to the English greeting that every Christian has to pray. Fall down, drop down on your knees, pray an Our Father and three Avemarie") . On Holy Saturday at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 a.m. On Holy Saturday, the ratchet children go from house to house and get their ratchet wages, which are then divided fairly among all boys and girls.

In some areas, hand ratchets or rattles are rarely used, rather the push ratchets are used. In the Weinviertel in Lower Austria, the pusher ratchets are still unadorned when they first ratchet on Maundy Thursday evening and on Good Friday at 6 a.m. (in many municipalities not until 7 a.m. or even 8 a.m.), after which they are decorated, mostly with tufts of boxwood branches purple bows, pushed forward.

When a spell is to be recited, the stock clerk at the command is the first to raise his ratchet over his head while the march, the rest of the group does the same. When the last ratchet has stopped, the spell is recited before the ratchets are lowered to the ground and the ratchet continues.


Web links

Commons : ratchets  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ratchet boys and girls. Bad Ischl City Museum (accessed January 2, 2010).
  2. An old tradition: children rattle through the villages on Kar days. In: rheinzeitung.de. Retrieved October 9, 2017 .
  3. Ratcheting during Holy Week. Austrian Commission for UNESCO: List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria. immaterielleskulturerbe.unesco.at (accessed March 31, 2016).
  4. Good Friday ratchet is now an intangible cultural heritage. In: Kleine Zeitung online, September 28, 2015;
    Good Friday rattles is now an Intangible Cultural Heritage. In: Der Standard online, September 28, 2015.