Tithe Sausage

In 1931, villagers in the German town of Demen rebelled and refused to pay the church the 130lbs of sausage due it as tithe. Because the payment of tithe was its legal right, the church sued and forced the villagers to give it the sausage. But, according to the church, what was eventually delivered was a sub-standard product. So in this way the villagers won the battle of the sausage.

The Indiana Progress - Aug 5, 1931

This odd dispute over tithe sausage attracted the attention of readers of the London Times, generating a number of letters. (England apparently has its own ancient tradition of the "tithe pig.") One correspondent (Feb 19, 1931) explained the larger cultural context of the tithe sausage dispute:


Sir, — A relative of mine sent me your very amusing article of February 7, "The Tithe Sausage," which described a tithe dispute in Mecklenburg. I can quite imagine that this would be merely a joke to English readers. Since I have some knowledge of clerical affairs in this country, perhaps you will allow me to send you some details about the custom of tithes in our State.

First, the salary of our country clergymen never consisted of cash alone, owing to the fact that members of a country parish can very well pay their duties in eatables, but are short of coined money. The custom proved to be convenient centuries ago and is convenient at the present time owing to the extreme poverty of all German agricultural estates in consequence of certain International Treaties. Besides, payment in naturalibus often acts as rent for arable land belonging to the Church, so that the Church is in this case fully justified in claiming her dues. Those 130lb of sausage that were owing could have been sold for the benefit of the Church, or given to the poor.

Secondly, different preparations of pork are the main substance (with the exception of potatoes) of our northern country households. A hundred and thirty pounds of sausage will provide a family, children and servants, with breakfasts, lunches, and suppers for a whole year. Every servant during his employment in the house must have his meals, containing chiefly bread and Wurst. And no housewife in all Mecklenburg will voluntarily go and buy sausage made by a butcher if she can get home-made sausage, owing to an old superstition that butchers will mix all sorts of inferior material into their sausages. (The home-made Wurst is really the best.) Mettwurst means "meat-sausage" (the word Mett being the same as your "meat") in contrast with "liver-sausage."

Now you may understand the importance of genuine Mettwurst for a household that is bound to give eatables to the poor besides satisfying its own wants. As farmers are sly all over the world they like to cheat the people who exact tithe from them, and half the clerical jokes of our landfolk are founded on this fact. For instance, in one of our villages there existed a sausage tithe measured not by pounds (lb.) but by metres. Consequently the parson was provided with sausage of the requisite length but as thin as a finger. I am sorry to say that clergymen are often bound to take proceedings against members of their parishes, a consequence of the division of Church and State. Also, secessions from the Church are frequent, which may be a symptom of the increasing influence of Bolshevism and poverty...

I can quite imagine that your readers will not want a good joke explained. Nevertheless, we must do justice to all sorts of men and to their institutions. Since I am accustomed to and often amused by the peculiarities of the country in which I live, I thought I might beg your indulgence to explain what seemed merely funny to "men of taste and urbanity."

Yours faithfully,
     Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 14, 2016

Kinda win the battle but lose the war if they get bad sausage, yuck!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/14/16 at 10:01 PM
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