“Windowing” – Historic Tradition Mainly In Austria & Bavaria

In older times, in the ‘old countries’, mainly in Austria and Southern Germany, Bavaria, where several generations were living in one house, the bedrooms of young ladies were often on the second floor, to protect their virtue. Young men and ladies had only opportunity to meet each other on the dance floor at ‘village celebrations’, or at church. Of course, Sundays were family days, and the fathers protected their daughters like dragons and they often were not allowed to talk after mass.

Well, between farm and shepherd work they sometimes had the chance to briefly meet, but were strictly watched by chaperones, or, occasionally, older siblings.

Of course, the families did not tolerate fornication under their roof and didn’t accept visitors. (Fornication was illegal, by the procuration law §180 a. F. StGB).

This means, if a boy fell for a girl and wanted to secretly talk to her, he grabbed a ladder, at nighttime, and walked to her parent’s house. There he climbed up to her window and knocked – and if the girl liked him too, she opened. And then, they were talking – and kissing… and sometimes, maybe doing a few other secret things, veiled by the darkness of the night.

That tradition is, of course, not called ‘windowing’. (I used that word, because I think it gets closest to the original words). The tradition is called ‘Fensterln’ (Austrian dialect) or ‘Fenstaln’ (Bavarian dialect) and means nothing else than visiting their sweetheart by climbing into the window. That tradition was a partially accepted living out of proscribed prenuptial sexual activities.

After the sexual laxity and female emancipation, the tradition was rendered unnecessary.

Nowadays it’s only practiced for the fun of it.

When I was around 16 and vacationing with my family in my aunt and uncle’s house, I had fallen for a really cute boy, and he promised to visit me one night. Of course, he didn’t. I could imagine he didn’t want to fall down and break his neck in the darkness, He told me later, he couldn’t find a ladder that was long enough to reach the window… but I still suspect he was just scared to death from my Dad. And by thinking about it, it’s only natural. My Dad was a protector. Also, climbing into the room was out of the question, since I shared it with my younger sister. The boy probably thought, just for a couple kisses it wasn’t worth the effort. And I’m not that old… we could kiss during the day. *chuckle*

Why am I telling you about this tradition today? While writing a sub-story to my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I picked historic locations in Middle Europe, toward’s the end of the ‘Danube Monarchy’. During my research, I discovered an article about ‘Fensterln’ and started smiling, when I remembered it. Maybe, one day, you will have the chance to use it in one of your stories.

Happy Writing!

Picture courtesy of Google.com

6 thoughts on ““Windowing” – Historic Tradition Mainly In Austria & Bavaria

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