What is "Schlaraffia"?
Schlaraffia is a small close-knit band of men who meet weekly in Cincinnati to exchange friendship through the German language. Schlaraffia Cincinnatia was established in 1893 as a means for German-speaking men to escape the everyday toils of life. Still true to this purpose, our members meet once a week to listen and share many experiences. Despite highly diverse backgrounds and interests, the men of Schlaraffia all share a love for hearing and expressing the German language.
Schlaraffia is the oldest German society in Cincinnati still meeting, and the only German-speaking society here. Schlaraffia was started in Europe in 1859 when an ordinary man was exposed to the aristocracy in Prague and decided that common folk could hold “court” just like the king did. This man started to hold “court” with friends at a local restaurant and the theme of the meetings was literature, art and humor. Participants wore unusual hats and gave literary speeches, poem readings or musical performances. To counter the growing Czech nationalism of the time, he established a rule that all meetings must be in German in order to preserve the German language and culture. Schlaraffia spread all over Europe and German immigrants brought the society to over two dozen locations in North America. Worldwide membership exceeds 11,000.
At Schlaraffia we follow a strict agenda for the first part of the meeting, and then switch to a more casual format of speeches, presentations, and performances. Recently members in Cincinnati have spoken about vacations, cars, hobbies, family, German philosophers and writers. Musical performances included singing of opera and piano playing. Freed from the burdens of everyday work and home life, the men relax and enjoy an evening filled with entertainment, intellect and ever-present humor. In the summer, members get together with family at each others’ homes throughout Cincinnati to improve friendships. All of this is given in the context of the German language.