One of the possible explanations for the name "Worms" is from "Wurm" - worm in English. Since one of the old German words for dragon was Lindwurm, it may be that memories of dragons are reflected in the city's name. I don't know if this is true, but there are lots of dragons to be seen all over the town. Old ones ,for example on the wall of the Andreasstift or new ones, like the many colourful dragons in the pedestrian precinct or even in people's gardens.
Haha, I think it cannot get more “local customs” than this one, and I am very grateful to a nice lady who told me about this (and note, she adressed me when I was wandering through the Cathedral with my Japanese colleagues – this is also typical for Palatine people – they are just nice and helpful to any foreigners !)
Ok, the story is the following:
The extensive restaurations of the Cathedral early 20th century were lead by architect Philipp Brand. His dachshund was always with him, also at the construction works. One day, Philipp was on the scaffolding when his dog tried to bite him and he jumped away. That very moment, a huge stone fell down and crashed on the ground. So the dog has saved his master’s life. That’s why Philip has added a dachshund sculpture on the Cathedral’s southern portal.
If you stand in front of the southern portal, look up to your left – and you can see the dog smile :-)
Update, May 15, 2007:
now I have added the dachshund = Dackel photo :-)
So far, the only additional pictures I took connecting Worms and Nibelungenlied are ones about the dispute of the queens.
After Siegfried married Kriemhild and Gunther married Brünhild, the girls were in constant quarrels. It finally leadt to the dispute whose husband had more class, thus who of the queens would be the one to enter the Cathedral first. Kriemhild, in her jealousy of Brünhild, told her about Siegfrieds deeds (that he and not Gunther conquered her in Iceland). This dispute took place at the entrance to the Cathedral; that’s why the northern portal is called Kaiserportal (emperor portal).
The other picture is of a very much modern little sculpture just 100 m off the eastern part of the Cathedral, obviously also showing the two queens in their quarrel. But unfortunately, no sign tells about this, so I can only assume that Brünhild is the one on the left and Kriemhild on the right.
If you want to learn more about the beginnings of Siegfried, check what Simone wrote about the northern version of Sigurd on her Sundby page (starting from tip 5 on).
In my local customs tips about Worms, I plan to tell more about the Nibelungenlied. Even if it is a saga and the heros did not live at all, it is a very famous legend, and fascinating in all aspects (if we neglect its bad misuse during German black years). Worms was full of little monuments about the heros, some have been destroyed during the war, some have survived. On my next visit to Worms, I will take pictures of all remains, which tell about the Nibelungen, and place them here to tell the song.
This picture is of Siegfriedbrunnen (Siegfried fountain), now on Neumarkt, just opposite of the Cathedral’s eastern end. It shows Siegfried in his early years, after he had killed the dragon, who guarded Nibelungen treasure.
This is based on the traditions of the oldest guild in Germany which was founded in 1106. It didnt become a fest until 1933.
The Fish Mayor takes is Fish bride and they open the ceremonies at the City Hall. After that it is nine days of parades, midway rides, Backfisch (Baked fish), and don't forget spearfishing in the Rhein.
The tradtional symbol of this festival is the Heart with horizontal red and white stripes with a fish hanging off the bottom. I remember making on of these in school out of construction paper and we stuffed the fish with cotton balls so it would be puffy. Lots of fun when you are eight years old.
The event usually takes place at the end of August or Beginning of September.