It was a surprise to feel how heavy the coats were! The openings of the pockets are edged with leather and these details are important as these clothes must be comfortable and will get hard wear every day for the duration of the journeyman's travels, traditionally three years and a day.
Both wear simple earrings in their left earlobes which were pierced with a nail before leaving to travel, in the traditional way. The earrings were not the elaborate ones showing insignia for their professions but were much simpler in design.
They would go to the town hall with their pack and Stenz on departing from each place and recite a traditional speech in German before getting the stamp. Unfortunately, Bristol isn't used to travelling journeymen and the town hall didn't have such a stamp!
He said that he would travel 'in the tradition' until he knew that it was time to stop. He had already travelled to Japan, Canada, Jamaica and around Europe. Perhaps he would decide to settle because he needed a permanent workshop, perhaps for another reason. Some journeymen continue to travel around after finishing their Wandergeselle years, they just don't do it following some of the ways of the tradition.
Traditionally, a journeyman could apprentice themselves to a master craftsman and would study with them until they were ready to make a 'master piece'. If this was good enough, they would be accepted as a master craftsman and only then did they have the right to open their own workshop. Nowadays, many people do not follow this route as it is very expensive and the power of the guilds to enforce it has diminished.
Leo had travelled around Europe and to Jamaica, where he could explore the reggae music that he likes a lot. He said that it took a year of travelling before he really started to understand what the rules governing behaviour, dress and other aspects of the life of a travelling journeyman actually meant.
The traditional dress and rules were very, very important to both Nat and Leo. They did seem to mark them out and got a lot of attention. The life of a travelling journeyman doesn't seem like it is always an easy one and the reputation earned by previous visiting journeymen is vital when trying to find work and contacts in a new town. Both Nat and Leo understood how important their behaviour was to those who might follow them along this path. One particularly important trait is honesty and keeping your word, which seems like a good point of view for any serious craftsperson.
When two journeymen drink together, they don't clink glasses together in the way that is common in Europe. This tradition began as a way of exchanging a little of the liquid in each cup, to prove that there was no poison added to either of them. Journeymen don't need to prove their honour to each other and so they look at each other and tap the drinking vessels against the table instead.
People travelling in the tradition aren't allowed to own their own transport and traditionally they would travel by foot or hitchhike to the next destination.
When they set out, each of them carried five euros (it was originally five deutschmarks in pre-euro days). They must return home after their travels with the same amount, no more. They have to fund themselves on their travels by finding work and must be unmarried, childless and debt-free when they start out. They cannot use the tradition to run away from responsibilities at home.
When they set out, Nat and Leo climbed over the signs for their hometowns and cannot return within 50km of them for three years and a day (unless there are certain specific reasons, like an immediate relative becoming dangerously ill). When they complete their travels, they will climb over the signs again to show that the wandering has ended. When Nat set out, the person who had introduced him to the tradition came with him for a while to ensure that he understood what he needed to do.
(I was there when Nat finished his journeyman years and have written about it here.)
It was explained to me that a long time ago laws were passed prohibiting journeymen from meeting unless for a celebration (with drinking). At this time, it was not uncommon for confrontations between different guilds to occur and so this may have been an attempt to prevent such trouble. The specific section allowing gatherings with drinking for celebrations was section (shown using §, the symbol for 'section') eleven.
Nowadays, §11 on display shows travelling journeymen that they are welcome.
Safe travels to all of you.