Oberammergau, however, is much more than that, for every ten years the townspeople present a day long event, "The Passion," a well laid out play depicting the final days of Jesus Christ, from his return to Jerusalem to his death and resurrection all in the course of one week. The concept was originated in the town in 1634 when it town survived the bubonic plague which savaged so much of Germany and Europe in 1633. The townspeople made a promise to God that if they were spared, they would present a masterful production every ten years for as long as the town existed. It was their way of thanking Him for His mercy and grace and since 1644, excepting two emergency cancellations, the event has unfolded. It is held daily for nearly five months and the next showing will be in 2020. Over one half million attend the event during the average showing year. Most tickets are already sold out for the next production as international travelers from all corners of the globe attend, usually coming as part of a package arrangement which includes transportation and lodging in addition to tickets.
Just imagine having the commitment of two thousand residents in one small town to carry out this promise for centuries. Unfortunately, I was not in Europe at a time when it is presented, but when I did visit the town, both in winter and summer, I did see the venue, an open air theater with shaded covering of the audience. It is against a backdrop of the local terrain and it is gorgeous, an unforgettable memory for just having been there.
I thought about it at Christmastime since the story it so well represents is the ultimate reason for the birth of Jesus. He had to take human form in order to suffer like a common man for all of our sins. And so, from that precious baby boy, born in the most humble of locations to a virgin mother under the watchful eye of her betrothed, who agreed to raise the boy as his own, the story began. Those wonderful people of Oberammergau, committed to their promise with a serious resolve and joy in their hearts, follow decade after decade to show in beautiful form how the story ended with creative, theatrical flourish.
A picture of the venue follows and if anyone plans a trip to Germany, don't forget to take a side trip to Oberammergau regardless of whether you are fortunate enough to obtain tickets. You won't regret it. It would even be a worthy addition to your "bucket list."