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A single twig breaks, but a bundle of twigs is strong
Many observervers of alpine traditrions have noticed that hunters place a tree branch in the game's mouth after it has been shot. This is a tradition performed by the hunters as a mark of respect between the hunter and its prey.
This tree-branch (referred to as "Bruch") consists of a three pronged branch with its leaves intact. Usually this twig is not larger than the size of a hand.
A broken branch as sign of respect
Have you ever wondered why alpine hunters often wear a twig on their hat? It is an old tradition, which is still widespread today.
Typically the twig worn on the hat can mean one of two different things. One important aspect which determines the meaning is on which side of the hat the branch is worn.
(Honouring the spoils of the hunt)
After killing an animal, the hunter must perform a ceremony: he lays the animal on its right side, gives the animal (symbolically) its last bite of food and then claims the animal. This is to show to others hunters that game when shot must always be respected. It is not enough to simply place a twig placed in its mouth, the slain animal is also placed on a bed of leaves as a sign of respect.
It is customary for the hunter to wear this socalled "last bite" in on his hat after the hunt. This twig worn on the hat is known as Beutebruch or alternatively as Schützenbruch.
These twigs (worn as signs of respect) are always worn on the right side of the hat!
(Honouring the fellowship)
The twig worn on the left side of the hat (known as "Standesbruch") is not only a simple accessory worn by those who hunt. Such fellowships remind us that whilst a single twig breaks, a bundle of twigs is strong.
This twig is worn on festive occasions, such as a hunters' ball or a fellow hunters' wedding. The hunters display their fellowship to a cause by wearing the "Standesbruch".
Such a sterling silver brooch, formed in the shape of the aforementioned twig, was made for exactly such occasions. It is a beautiful symbol to adorn the hunting hat at hunting events and other public appearances.
The conifer is an evergreen tree that can withstand adverse weather and is thus a symbol of long life and eternity. It is therefore a suitable symbol and a powerful representation of the Christian faith.
In the case case of a personal bereavement, hunters can wear the "Standesbruch" as a sign of respect at a funeral as well as at a memorial service.
As a general rule, hunters keep their hats on when performing together as a group or in a closed formation. It goes without saying that the hat is removed in church and when the coffin is lowered into its grave, as a sign of respect to the deceased.
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