Posted on July 22, 2013
On this date in 1376, the Pied Piper piped his pipe, and all the rats in the town of Hamelin, Germany, followed the piper out of town and into the nearby river, where they drowned.
But the mayor of Hamelin went back on his promise to pay the piper for solving the rat problem, so the Pied Piper once again piped his pipe, and he led away all the children of the town—this time, away to Transylvania. And they never came back!
Well...it is a legend that has been adapted into a nursery story, a poem, and other formats—but part of it may have been based on a true story! Historians point out that there were horrible rat infestations in the town of Hamelin, and there are several accounts that the population of children suddenly dropped to near zero around the time of the legend—due to the plague, or a landslide or sinkhole disaster, or an ill-fated Children's Crusade, depending on the account.
All the varied reports have many different details, including different months, days, and years for the devastating event—whatever it may have been.
It all sounds grim—what a switch from yesterday's holiday, which celebrates children saving their town! Still, the holidays are celebrated in similar ways! For example, the townspeople of Hamelin reenact the exodus of children every summer Sunday at noon. This open-air play lasts 30 minutes, and it's free. There is also a musical called “RATS” every Wednesday in the middle of old town—and it lasts 40 minutes and is also free! Thousands of visitors go to the town to watch these performances (about 50,000 last summer alone).
You can also book a tour guide dressed as the Pied Piper to help you enjoy your visit to Hamelin. The Pied Piper is featured in statuary on several fountains in town, in a church window, in an inscription on what is supposed to be the piper's house, in clockwork figures on the town's Glockenspiel, and in an entire museum devoted to the tale!
Also on this date:
Check out my Pinterest pages on July holidays, historical anniversaries in July, and July birthdays.
And here are my Pinterest pages on August holidays, historical anniversaries in August, and August birthdays.