Spottschreft has learned that many of the residents in the Southern Manitoba villages of Sommerfeld, Neubergthal and Gnadenfeld were disappointed when the Brommtopp troupe once again failed to make an appearance on New Year’s Eve.
Noted Edgar Klippenstein, 89, of Sommerfeld, “I think it’s been since 1937 that I last remember the Brommtopp coming around, I was just a kid then”.
The tradition of the Brommtopp which was practiced in many Mennonite Villages on ditsied, saw young men dressed in costumes go from door to door on New Year’s Eve providing entertainment in the form of songs and sometimes skits to entertain homeowners they visited. In return the performers were given gifts in the form of food and drink including homemade chokecherry wine and brandy.
The center piece for the tradition was the Brommtopp, a drum-like musical instrument with a horsehair tail attached to one end which when played made a very loud ‘brrrumming’ sound which alerted homeowners that the group had arrived.
Spottschreft was able to interview a man from Gnadenthal, who would only identify himself as ‘Jake’. He indicated that he thinks he knows why the Brommtopp has not been seen for the past 79 years, stating, “My great grandfather was part of the last group that performed in 1937. They visited the home of Wilhelm Schmidt in the village of Sommerfeld. After their performance they were given purtselkje and a large jug of Mrs. Schmidt’s homemade chokecherry wine. The wine was meant to be shared by the entire group but by the time they got to Neubergthal all the wine had been consumed by just three members of the group who were now so drunk that the performance had to be cancelled. The Brommtopp actually fell out of the sleigh they were riding in and was damaged.”
‘Jake’ indicated that his grandfather and the other members of the Brommtopp troupe came under close scrutiny by Church Elders and were only able to avoid excommunication by agreeing to disband the group and promise to destroy the Brommtopp instrument.
Noting that there is renewed interest in the Brommtopp, ‘Jake’ finished on a tantalizing note, adding that the tradition may be revived in the coming years.