Ratcatcher’s Day celebrates that famous exterminator: the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
On July 22, 1376, a ratcatcher lured over a hundred children from Hamelin, Germany.
They were never to be seen again.
One or three children were left behind, depending on the version being told.
One child was lame, another was deaf while the third one was blind.
Early historians thought the Pied Piper legend may have hinted at the plague.
(Which would explain the rats.)
However, the rats weren’t added to the story until the 16th century.
Another theory is that the Hamelin children died as a result of a natural disaster.
The Piper is acting the part of Death.
Perhaps the children were recruited to a doomed “children’s crusade,” forced to fight in the Holy Land.
A dark theory is that the Pied Piper was a pedophile who abducted sleeping children.
Most modern historians think the Pied Piper of Hamelin symbolizes the colonizing of Eastern Europe.
Thousands of young people emigrated from central Germany to Transylvania.
The street where the children were last seen is today called Bungelosenstrasse (street without drums).
No one is allowed to play music or dance there.
We will probably never solve the mystery of the Pied Piper.
An entry in the chronicles of Hamelin from 1834 reads simply:
“It is 100 years since our children left”.