A Tradition Of Chaos

Comments Off on A Tradition Of Chaos Non-fiction, Uncategorized, Writing, Issue 7

By Ian Brown

Each year as many Christian Americans are cleaning up from gift exchange at Christmas
and looking forward to observing the celebration of a New Year, descendants of the long extinct
germanic-tribal Kaltbetrunkengeil people begin to make preparations for the only one holiday
they’ve ever been known to celebrate: the Festival of Frühlingswahnsinn.


Kaltbetrunkengeilers were a mineral mining society, specializing in the extraction of a
rare lithium rich salt aptly referred to as dummes Salz or “Silly Salt ”, due to the euphoric
sensation it would provide through ingestion or transdermal absorption. Early pharmaceutical
manufacturers caught wind of this miracle mineral and attempted to prospect the mountains
themselves much to their peril. Insurance costs rendered their efforts a major profit loss, so
therefore all excavation of the mountain was contracted to be performed exclusively by the
Kaltbetrunkengeilers. The demand for this mineral was so high and constant that the
Kaltbetrunkengeilers dedicated all available time to this laborious effort of extraction. The
process of digging in this mountain range was extremely dangerous and over the course of each
season, mishaps would claim many souls. In addition to being cave dwellers, the
Kaltbetrunkengeilers were also masters of agriculture. The mining efforts combined with
planting, harvesting, and animal husbandry made for an all hands on deck approach to societal
organization, therefore all gender roles were effectively erased amongst the villagers, and
everyone contributed to all factors of life equally.

The end of each mining season was marked with a late December thaw which would
render the mountain face unscalable, and the sedimentary layers of cave walls unstable. At this
time all mining operations would cease, and the Kaltbetrunkengeilers would enjoy a much-
needed break to celebrate their profits, mourn their departed, and give chance to procreation.
This period of time was referred to as the Frühlingswahnsinn, and is fabled to have not only
grown to be a festival of life, but also a seemingly supernatural phenomenon of shared insanity.

Being the sole producers of this sought-after material made the Kaltbetrunkengeil people
wealthy beyond anyone’s assessment. Recently discovered accounting ledgers maintained by the
Gutes Medikament Pharmaceutical Company provided that by the end of WWI, the
Kaltbetrunkengeil people were in possession of more wealth than the rest of Germany and all of
Austria combined. Being a socialized society, the villagers enjoyed fair distribution of the profit
yield which eventually afforded families the opportunity to send children of promise down from
the mountains into civilization to attend university and carry-on lives that weren’t destined to
risk them lithium poison or live burial via tunnel collapse. It was these select individuals who
would serve to act as the modernization of my ancestry, and it is to honor them that we continue
to suffer the pleasures of fünf Nächte Chaos “Five Nights of Chaos” or its mainstream name… Frühlingswahnsinn.

Frühlingswahnsinn was brought to the United States following WWII by Bavarian
immigrants descended from the Kaltbetrunkengeilers, as was the case with my father’s parents.
Naturally as generations advanced, inter-nationality marriages would occur creating opportunity
for non-Kaltbetrunkengeil people to learn the customs and traditions associated with this
celebration, and over time has even formed amalgamations of Frühlingswahnsinn with other
Judeo-Christian holidays. My mother’s side of the family were and are largely agnostic, so
taking on a nonreligious seasonal celebratory practice was a no-brainer.


Due to the absurd nature of the festival, it has become tradition to begin
Frühlingswahnsinn with a formality aimed at injecting a sense of decorum into the event. This is
achieved by having the chosen host family issue a written declaration of intent to all invited
parties. The youth of the host family will create scroll format invitations that will be mailed to all
invited participants. It is then the invitee’s duty to respond and RSVP by returning the perforated
bottom portion of the parchment with a wax seal stamp of their familial crest. This process is
carried out a minimum of three weeks in advance of the celebration to ensure that the host has an
opportunity to procure the appropriate amount of food and map out sleep spaces for the
attendees. Since Frühlingswahnsinn is a five-day festival of misfit-like behavior, all participants
are confined to the host property for the duration of the event, unless medical intervention is
deemed absolutely necessary.

A ritual lottery is conducted on the first of the five nights of observation. The purpose of
this lottery is to determine who will be the honorary bearer of the Doofes Seil, or “Dope Rope”
for the duration of the celebration. The dope rope is a symbolic representation of the anchor line
tied around the lead climber’s waist while mountaineering. The rope is very much an homage to
the lives lost on the mountain, but also becomes the artifact that identifies the wearer to be the
ceremonial lightning rod for ridicule from other attendees. The Kaltbetrunkengeil people were
notoriously cynical, and often employed strategic harassment as a means of expressing great
affection toward one another. Therefore, being selected to wear the rope is in a sense being
bestowed with a high honor. A good example of this arbitrary symbolism is detailed on page 6 of
Amitai Etzioni’s essay Neglected Seedbeds of Virtue–from the compilation of works–We Are
What We Celebrate
where he states, “Just as a nation’s flag evokes much more reverence than
the piece of cloth it is made of, so does a glass of wine used during religious rituals evoke much
more reverence than one consumed in a bar”. Any other time of the year a rope around one’s
waist would be a sign that it was time to invest in a belt, but during Frühlingswahnsinn, it may as
well be a crown of jewels.

A time-honored day one custom of Frühlingswahnsinn includes the brining of game hens
in silly salt for a delicacy called flippiges Huhn or “funky chicken”. This task was traditionally
performed by the village elders who during the process would experience a youthful glow from
the transdermal absorption of lithium via dry rubbing the poultry with seasoned silly salt. These
days, the hens are imported pre-seasoned to reduce prep time and lend an element of precision to
the process, thus reducing the potential for overdose as effects of climate change have caused a
significant increase in the mineral’s potency.

Day two is when the peculiarities of Frühlingswahnsinn preparation really start to
blossom. An important part of preparing for the celebration again falls on the shoulders of the
youth. Traditionally, all of the children will wake up hours before the adults and booby-trap the
house. Trip wires, loosened chair legs, greased floors, and sewn-shut pant legs are classic gags,
but with the advent of the internet, the intricacy of tricks has seen a dramatic upswing. The side-
effects of lithium intoxication combined with the unrelenting paranoia of being caught in a trap
form an element of mistrust amongst the participants, which creates a sturdy foundation for the
development of the ritual shared insanity that plays such an important role in celebration.


This holiday has largely moved from public celebration to private observation due to
such drastic contrasts with American values
– Etzioni, Amitai pg. 23. The need for privacy has
grown increasingly strong as advances in technology have made it so just about every person has
a camera in their pocket. Leaking footage of celebratory practice may prove corrosive to a
person’s character and professional reputation. Therefore, a strict quarantine is enforced on
participants of the celebration for the entire duration. L. Robert Kohls asserts in his essay The
Values Americans Live By
; “In the United States, privacy is not only seen as a very positive
condition, but it is also viewed as a requirement that all humans would find equally necessary,
desirable and satisfying”. It is my estimation that Kohls would have had a field day analyzing the
weaving of a Frühlingswahnsinn celebration into the fabric of American society.

Altered consciousness plays a significant role in a proper Frühlingswahnsinn
observance, so much of the traditional food and drink includes a calibrated dosage of silly salt.
This enhanced state of mind is responsible for the chaotic nature of the whole event. Day three is
when the celebration shifts from preparation to practice. Festivities begin with a game of kind
or “child toss”, which as the name suggests, involves throwing the children toward an
arrangement of baskets much like Skee-ball. The winner is granted the special privilege of being
excluded from bare knuckle boxing which takes place on the fourth day.

Each evening of the celebration begins with a session of high stakes gambling. Day one
generally involves common card and dice games, but gradually graduates away from casino
classics toward outwardly obscure contests involving everyday situations. For example, ten years
ago, my uncle lost his dentures in a wager with my father over who could blow out a candle with
flatulence. My father won and set the kitchen window treatments ablaze in the process.

Gambling is followed by a feast of funky chicken and fixings similar to that which may
be found at a traditional thanksgiving dinner. Each course of the meal is announced at top
volume and delivered airmail to the table by way of a large slingshot set up in the doorway
between the kitchen and dining room. It is the customary responsibility of the in-law side of the
family to catch and distribute the food with large lacrosse stick type instruments or leather mitts.
A few years back I had witnessed a truly otherworldly occurrence at a Frühlingswahnsinn dinner
and recorded the event in my journal:

Frühlingswahnsinn Day 3 – 2300hrs, December 28th, 2017

Tonight, during dinner service Grandpa Claus took control of the slingshot and was feeling
spicy after dipping out to the backyard with the twenty-somethings to burn a hooter of some
high-test hippie salad. He managed to land a honey-glazed spiral ham onto a platter at the
end of the table with surgical precision which really got everyone charged up like we were
at a playoffs game. Next was the German potato salad. THWACK!!! snapped the slingshot,
sending a full complement of Aunt Marnie’s hot, mustard coated spuds careening through
the air and into a Swarovski crystal punch bowl displayed on the hutch in the corner of the
dining room. My eldest cousin Fritz threw his hands in the air like an NFL referee
approving a field goal kick, which was followed by the whole family stomping their feet,
pounding fists on the table, and loudly chanting “CLAUS – DER – MANN! CLAUS – DER –
MANN! CLAUS – DER – MANN!”. Grandpa Claus was really feeling himself by now and pointed at an empty breadbasket on the kids table at the other corner of the room as if to call his shot like Babe Ruth. A cacophonic roar emerged from the whole room. Five boys from the Kindertisch had painted a letter on each of their bare chests in ketchup to spell out C – L – A – U – S. Grandpa Claus grabbed a hefty seed-crusted loaf of Roggenmischbrot and loaded it into the pocket of the slingshot with the confidence of an ace gunner. As he leaned back to draw tension on the culinary artillery cannon, he closed one eye to sharpen his aim and slid the tip of his tongue out the corner of his mouth. Making micro adjustments down and to the left, he took one additional step back landing his front heel right into a small puddle of spilled gravy which caused him to be violently jerked forward into a full front-split ripping the crotch straight out of his vintage lederhosen and sending the fucking rye zipping off on a crash course towards the huge picture window at the front of the house through the living room. Instantaneously, Auntie Doreen–a spritely five-foot-three fifty-seven-year-old mother of five–bolted from her seat causing a sharp clangor of glass and silverware as she fired past the end of the table toward the living room in a hard sprint. The shrill cry of Grandpa Claus splayed on the floor cupping his mangled groin and howling a piercing falsetto seemed to be muffled momentarily by what I swear was a small sonic boom as Doreen hurdled the love seat like a gazelle evading predators over a high brush. She then tucked her body into a parallel spiral to position herself under the ballistic bread and snatched it from the air as if plucking an apple from a tree. Rotating from her torpedo-like trajectory, she hit the ground just three paces from the picture window which she ran up and across with the athletic grace of an ‘89 Bo Jackson, leaving no trace of the act but seven little sweaty footprints on the glass. Doreen–who has always been known for her modesty–moonwalked back to the table with the bread nestled into the crook of her arm like a football and spiked it into my second Cousin Geoffery’s lap. I‘d never seen any shit like this before in my life.

Belching is also highly encouraged during meals, while vomiting from overeating is
considered the pinnacle of complimentary expression. For this, the traditional tablecloth of a
Frühlingswahnsinn dinner is gusseted with deep decorative pockets around the edges to act as
catch bags. You can usually gauge the family’s satisfaction with the meal by how heavy the
tablecloth is after cleaning up.

An exchange of gifts is not common at traditional Frühlingswahnsinn celebrations due to
the lack of importance placed on material possessions. In lieu of presents, Kaltbetrunkengeilers
trade gossip about other family members, and folks in the community. This normally leads to
additional impromptu boxing matches.

Day four is known as Duschtag or “Shower Day” and is a highly anticipated element of
the festival as by this time, everyone is pretty ripe, and caked in food debris. During shower day,
it is customary to make parodies of Christmas songs. My favorite was always Randolph the Red
Schwanz Reindeer.

Before the gambling session of evening four–while everyone is still clean and fresh–the entire family will partake in a macro-dose of silly salt and berate the bearer of the dope rope with a concentrated stream of emotional attacks. Nothing is offside here. Appearance, intelligence, social standing, even relationship status is open season during this verbal stoning. The interesting aspect of this event is that the abuse stops not when the dope rope can no longer take it, but when the assailants feel too horrible about the things they’ve said, and break into a sobbing apology. This is all followed by extended group hugs, the dope rope bearer assuming the head of the dinner table, and unfettered affection for the remainder of the celebration. This immediate evening of praise is accompanied by a period of peace which we’ve come to refer to as Qualitätszeit or “quality time” as it typically stands to represent the time within which we treat one another the best. Descendants of the Kaltbetrunkengeil people are drastically different from the average modern American family, but similarities pertaining to the perception of quality time are strong. We like our time apart but are truly at our best together. This sentiment is well expressed in the writing of John R. Gillis in his essay titled Remembering Memory through Ritual (pg.93) where he states, “Today’s families live by what they like to call “quality time,” which is by no means the same as the time that divides them”. When the clans all converge this one time each year, we seem to almost recharge the kinship bond which is subject to fray by the stressors of toiling for survival in the metaphorical salt mines of American capitalistic society. Each year, the elders consider breaking the five days of Frühlingswahnsinn into five separate holidays to be dispersed about the calendar, forcing more opportunities to gather, but the youth of the family always veto the proposal as it is the young Kaltbetrunkengeil descendents who act
as the stalwart defenders of the old way.

Day five serves as a memorial to the ancestors which involves the spiritual aspect of silly salt use and is the day I enjoy the most. Upon waking, the entire participating family collects in the living room while elders prepare a tea made from silly salt, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass. The ceremony begins rather informally by allowing anyone with a story about a legendary ancestor to spin their yarn. Legends of heroism, tragedy, great love, and mysticism are shared by the silver-tongued orators of the family. I fit neatly into this category which is how I’ve come to see day five as my favorite. The tea allows listeners to close their eyes, and free themselves of the chains of reality. The storyteller then speaks, while the listeners create visuals to accompany the words in their minds. The last celebration of Frühlingswahnsinn I attended was my first and only opportunity to lead the main story, so I told the tale of my great ancestor Hallet the Untamable. Hallet had learned of an expedition to the caves that had been doomed by avalanches caused when the thaw began earlier than expected. Hallet was informed of the mining crew’s plight by way of a great snowy owl named Erlich who he claimed was his older brother who was trapped in animal form by a witch’s curse. Against the vote of the village, he set out to rescue the miners from what was to be their icy tomb in the buried mountain side cave. He was unable to procure any climbing gear because the villagers had refused to support what they considered to be a suicide mission, so he free climbed the whole way with nothing but his five-foot alpenhorn slung over his back. For five days he climbed with navigation from Erlich until he was able to see where new ice was collecting from a fire the miners managed to start inside the cave which they fueled by burning their clothes. Hallet climbed above the cave until he found a ledge of stone and was able to stand with his back to the mountain. He then took his alpenhorn from his back and blew a tone so mighty and true which summoned an enchanted avalanche which he was able to control that knocked the ice pack away from the cave opening and allowed for the miners to follow him back to the village naked.

This aspect of the festival gives me hope and a sense of the future because I know that
regardless of how heavy things get here in the real world, and how difficult the system makes
living, I will always have my imagination and the sense of absolute unfettered freedom I am able
to experience when I use it.


A proper celebration of Frühlingswahnsinn generally leaves a person physically, financially, and
emotionally in shambles. Which is why it has become customary in this modern age to invite a
group therapist to the unofficial day six of the celebration. This way we may begin to unpack
some of the freshly minted trauma we’ve added to our already fruitful catalog and realign with
the values we’re expected to present as participants in a functioning American society. A well-
vetted physician is kept on retainer for realignments, setting fractures, and plaster casting
grandpa’s balls back in place that one time. In addition to therapeutic services, a well-to-do
family member usually hires a cleaning crew to reverse some of the damage caused from the
raucous celebration. You’d think a little Windex would be enough to clear Auntie Doreen’s
footprints from the floors and windows, but whatever species of foot fungus she’s living with
really does a number on hard surfaces. That job requires professional grade products and some
serious elbow grease. Day six is especially vital to those who have long vehicular commutes,
as the lithium hangover or mentaler Durchfall as it is called in German can be quite a menacing
ordeal to contend with while driving. During this time, breakout groups will gather in far corners
of the home and settle any feuds which may have arisen during the celebration. It is paramount
that we leave a Frühlingswahnsinn celebration with fewer grievances than when we had arrived.
We commit not to speak of the intimate details of the event outside the family circle and agree
unanimously that it’s a good thing this only happens once a year.

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