Make Plans To Be a Part of History
It′s been a whole decade since a little village in Germany took the stage to perform a historic show that draws crowds from all ends of the globe: the Oberammergau Passion Play. The wait is nearly over. Beginning this May and running through September, seats are filling up, and the world is abuzz once again with the excitement of the endurance of a legacy.
The History — For more than 400 years, the quaint Bavarian village of Oberammergau has performed its Passion Play as a promise to God. It′s actually a fascinating, wonderful story — one that every ten years spikes travel patterns and stands out. Travelers know about this event and they want to be a part of history.
With Mount Kofel and the Bavarian Alps as a backdrop, Oberammergau softly beckons travelers like an old friend. The welcoming facades of houses are brilliantly painted with frescoes. The scenes range from biblical to storybook. Here, the charm of it all is so enchanting – the sense of peace, absolute.
Oberammergau wasn′t always as wonderfully peaceful as it is now. In the middle of the Thirty Years War, at the beginning of the 17th century, the “Black Death,” or plague, penetrated the remote mountain valleys of the Alps. People at that time believed that their only chance of survival was to pacify God′s fury. So in 1633, surviving villagers swore an oath to perform a “Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ” every ten years if God would show mercy and release their village from the clutches of the plague.Â According to a chronicle of the time, from the day the villagers of Oberammergau gathered around the cross to swear their sacred vow, no more villagers died of the plague.
The rest, as they say, is history. The first Passion Play was staged in 1634. In 1680, the performance was moved to the first year of each decade.
The plot of the Passion Play has not changed since the first performance. It includes Christ′s entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the kiss of betrayal on the Mount of Olives, the mocking Roman soldiers, the women who followed Jesus to his crucifixion, and the moment Mary Magdalene brings word of his resurrection to the disciples. The Passion Play is performed on an open-air stage, and in German, but with enough verve and emotion that it transcends language barriers.
The Legacy —How does a simple village succeed in staging a project of this magnitude, even if only every ten years? Certainly a vow taken in 1633 is no longer binding on anyone. We have witnessed the passing of so many traditions. In fact, there were many old passion play traditions that have since disappeared. Yet Oberammergau lives on. What began as a solemn duty is now the joyous retelling of a story that continues to give hope and strength to countless oppressed people around the world. This is the story of a man from Nazareth, played out in a theater with music and elaborate costuming. The message is as simple as it is profound. Perhaps somewhere in the middle lies the answer to its endurance.
AAA Member Choice Vacations®, includes special reserved seating at a Passion Play performance on eight European tours. Don′t wait another decade to experience this incredible mega event. To find out more about AAA Member Choice Vacations®, visit or call your local AAA office.