Press Release: Hair and Beard Decree on Ash Wednesday

Traditionally, from Ash Wednesday, the Hair and Beard Decree is valid in Oberammergau, which this year is on February 17. From this date, all participants of the Passion Play 2022 will have to grow their hair and beards again, and the joyful expectation for the premiere on May 14, 2022 grows, too.

Play director Christian Stückl at the press conference (Photo: Sebastian Schulte)

"The Hair and Beard Decree is a very old tradition," says Play director Christian Stückl. "Whereas in the past only men were called upon to let their hair and beards grow - women wore their hair long anyway - the Decree now equally applies to both sexes." It cannot be reconstructed precisely when this tradition began. It is assumed that the Decree dates back about 200 years, when the people from Oberammergau began to bring more than 50 performances per season to the stage, and thus bring the Passion Play closer to a very large audience. At the beginning, "only" three to four dates were listed on the program, which probably would not have been worth the effort. Now posters and advertisements are announcing the beginning of the 15-month ban on hairdressing. From then on, the actors begin to grow into their role with the visual change.

"This is the moment from which we begin to feel the enthusiasm for the Passion Play in Oberammergau even more". Andreas Rödl is looking forward to the Decree which will be signed by him for the first time during his time as mayor. The head of the municipality himself has been part of the performance from an early age on, and can still remember his first Passion Play at the age of five. In 2022, he will be in the choir. This time with long hair. Because in his former job as a police officer, he was only eligible for "shorthair rolls". The Roman soldiers, the helpers behind the scenes, and the orchestra members are the only ones exempt from the Decree.

After the postponement of the Passion Play from 2020 to 2022, some people from Oberammergau have left their hair longer. "I wouldn't have taken it upon myself to cut my long hair very short," reveals John actor Anton Preisinger Junior, adding, "I'm saving myself the transition from short to long hair, and this uneasy intermediate length. "Cutting hair-ends is of course allowed, and hair and beard care is quite an issue for the people from Oberammergau.

However, there will be a small adjustment this year. Because of the Bavarian requirement to wear FFP2 masks, the Beard Decree is not as strict as usual. "The focus is clearly on hair. It takes some time until the hair has the desired length", says Christian Stückl. In case of beards, a waiting period of four to five months would be sufficient.

Oberammergau's mayor Andreas Rödl, Head of Sales Walter Rutz and Play director Christian Stückl (Photo: Sebastian Schulte)

Oberammergau's mayor Andreas Rödl and Play director Christian Stückl (Photo: Sebastian Schulte)

Jesus actor Frederik Mayet, Oberammergau's mayor Andreas Rödl, Jesus actor Rochus Rückel, Head of Sales Walter Rutz and Play director Christian Stückl (Photo: Sebastian Schulte)