Bavarians rushed to get their hair cut last week as Germany eased some of its toughest coronavirus restrictions and opened barbershops and salons for the first time since December. But Frederik Mayet didn’t join the newly shorn and shaven throngs.
In fact, Mayet plans to keep growing his hair and beard for another year, so he can be more like Jesus.
“With the hair growing,” he explained, “you start to grow into your role as well.”
Mayet will play the starring role of the Savior in the 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play season in 2022, after a two-year pandemic postponement.
The village, about an hour south of Munich, has put on the theatrical reenactment of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection every 10 years since 1633, when the town was famously spared from the bubonic plague. In the intervening years, it’s only been canceled a few times: once for the Franco-Prussian War, once for each of the World Wars, and last year, because of COVID-19.
Mayet and more than 2,000 other locals spent months preparing for the 2020 performance, before it—like much of the rest of the world—was unceremoniously canceled by the pandemic.
“We worked really great together as a village being on stage for half a year before the lockdown, and then suddenly, from one day to the next, you don’t see anyone for weeks and months,” Mayet told Christianity Today. “I’m really looking forward to see people coming together again.”
The passion play is now set to run May 14 to October 2 next year. The actors of the village formally began to prepare last month on Ash Wednesday, when director Christian Stückl put out an official “hair and beard decree.”
The decree instructed all the local actors to “let their hair grow out, and the males to also grow a beard.”
Mayet, laughing, said the Bavarian government wanted the reformers to start a little earlier this year.
It’s difficult to say when the hairy tradition began, but “it is a very old tradition,” according to Stückl. He thinks its origins lay sometime in the 1800s. Photos from the Oberammergau archives show participants with robust beards and flowing locks at least as early as 1870.
Stückl said it feels a bit different this year, though, as Germans rush out to get their hair cut and Oberammergau starts to look like a “hippie village.”
Mayor Andreas Rödl, who has been part of the performance from an early age, doesn’t seem to mind. With his previous job as a police officer, Rödl was only eligible for “short-hair roles.” This year, his mane grown long, he’s enthusiastic about performing as part of the choir.
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Source: Christianity Today