The white masts and yards tower above the unmistakable bright green steel hull of Hamburg’s 118-year-old sailing ship, Rickmer Rickmers.
Now a museum on the Elbe, she once shipped bamboo and rice from Hong Kong and has taken on a new role which few would have expected: She is a venue for Germany’s latest post-marital phenomenon: the divorce party. Some 180,000 German couples split up each year. The divorce party is designed to help those separated weather the trauma. The ceremony involves a symbolic throwing overboard of the discarded wedding ring and, in the case of former brides, a ritualistic scissoring of the never to be worn again wedding dress. But that is as far as Sabine Stratenschulte, the Hamburg party organiser will go. She says throwing darts at a photograph of one’s ex-husband or wife is distasteful. “If somebody hasn’t got over the separation, they should wait until they feel like celebrating,” she told Der Spiegel. “It is important that divorcees look forward to a new beginning rather than feel angry towards their ex.” Starting all over again is what divorce parties are really about. But every party needs a cake – so the divorce party ends with a ceremonial cutting of the divorce cake inscribed with “Happily Divorced”.