This classic autumn event is north Germany’s equivalent of the wine festivals predominant in the south of the country, and is held each year in the second half of September. The Dithmarschen Cabbage Days are a major local initiative. Clubs, associations, businesses, political organisations, administrative departments and private individuals turn this event into a real experience for people coming from near and far.
Two Cabbage Queens wearing the traditional Dithmarschen costume employ their charm and knowledge to guide visitors to this autumn entertainment through a varied programme. The whole district comes alive with colourful farmers’ markets and other typical local events all associated with cabbage.
The extensive vegetable fields with their red or green vegetable heads stretch as far as the eye can see in this healthy North Sea coastal climate. Cabbage has been a significant crop in this region for over 100 years. The systematic cultivation of cabbage was started by Eduard Lass, a gardener from Wesselburen.
The Dithmarschen Cabbage Days are more than a regional event. The whole of north Germany, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern play an active part in this tradition. From Tuesday to Sunday cabbage is given pride of place on many menus and can also be found decorating numerous shop windows.
“Heiermann” (3 euro) and “Drei-Taler” (5 euro) dishes are available in many of the region’s restaurants throughout the Dithmarschen Cabbage Days. Many visitors have discovered the true taste of cabbage. And many of them take plenty of fresh heads of cabbage with them when they go home so that they can recreate the healthy Dithmarschen diet for themselves.
The fact that the “poor man’s vegetable” has now become a culinary speciality that is much in demand is due not only to the wide range of cabbage varieties available and to the inventiveness of Dithmarschen chefs, but also to the dedication of local vegetable growers. This healthy vegetable is freshly prepared and served with other tempting regional specialities, including lamb or prawns. Our visitors have plenty of opportunities to taste the local cabbage.
Science has rediscovered homespun medicine and the healing power of cabbage. Its bioactive components are said not only to help protect against breast and prostate cancer, but properly prepared cabbage wraps can also alleviate arthritic pain and, in conjunction with doses of vitamin B12, the symptoms of shingles. Sebastian Kneipp cured ulcers with cabbage leaves and applied them to cuts and burns.
There is just as much vitamin C in this Dithmarschen vegetable as there is in Italian citrus fruits. Cabbage is rich in nerve-strengthening vitamin B, potassium, calcium, sodium and blood-forming iron. Its fibre reduces blood cholesterol in a natural way. There are only 25 calories in 100 grams of white cabbage. Because it is easily digested, the delicate cauliflower, another member of the cabbage family, is often served to invalids and as part of a light diet. Sauerkraut (pickled white cabbage) strengthens the immune system and helps with poor concentration and cardiovascular problems.
Many visitors are soon won over to the health-giving powers of this cruciferous plant: the good North sea climate and the high quality of cabbage are reason enough to visit the Dithmarschen region between Hamburg and Sylt time and again.