Kirms ← Kirmes ← Kirmeß ← Çirmeş ← Čeremis (Mari people of the Volga Finns)

Started by Hans Erik Foss Amundsen on Thursday, November 3, 2011


Profiles Mentioned:

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11/3/2011 at 8:22 AM

I have traced the Kirms family line from the 18th century (Kirms-Krackow-Haus in Weimar) back to Kirmeß/Kyrmeß in the 15th century (Altenburg/Thüringen) where a number of Kirmeß priests show up.

Pfarrer Johann Kirmeß (* c 1485 - † 1568) entitles himself "Ego, Joannes Ceremisius" in latin which means "I, Johannes of the Cheremis". The Cheremis (or Mari people) belong to the Volga Finns who traditionally lived along the Russian rivers Volga and Kama and are also known as Çirmeş (in Tatar), Čeremis (in Russian), Ceremissi (in Italian), Tscheremisse (in German).

Further hunting for possible Kyrmeß ancestors in the 14/15th century give apparent hits in Poland, Czechia, Hungary.

I suspect that the Kyrmeß´s may descend from Volga Finns that migrated eastward during the 13/14th century. The Teutonic Knights are engaged in warfare and crusades in Poland and Lithuania not long before the Kyrmeß start to show up in Altenburg. Could there be a link?

Anyone out there with some additional ideas?



Ref: Johannes Kirmeß, III

11/4/2011 at 8:28 AM

Hi Lauri

Thanks for the tip. I will contact the people you mention.

All the best


Private User
1/19/2012 at 3:32 AM

This discussion is very interesting to me in that it opens a previously unsuspected approach to my family name. I am called Kyrmse, but the Y has been put in by my great-grandfather Eduard, from Wetzlar in Germany, originally from the Thuringian region.
I have always assumed - and the Thuringian Kirmses seem to believe so too - that our name derives from the Kirmse (the Saxon dialectal equivalent to High German Kirmes), ultimately from Old High German kirchwihmesse. This, originally a celebration for the inauguration of a new church, has become to mean a village feast, more or less equivalent to a present-day Jahrmarkt. So I imagined that the original (whatever that means) Kirmse owned the land of the Kirmes, or maybe became (in)famous for his juggling, or eating and drinking, abilities.
And now this about the Cheremis! I certainly will be following the discussion with much interest, and ask you, Hans, to keep me informed on my e-mail address (, since I do not always visit
Congratulations on your research!

Private User
1/19/2012 at 3:35 AM

I have tried, Hans, to determine how you are related to the Kirmeß family, but maybe you could tell me yourself.
Thanks and best regards!

Private User
1/19/2012 at 4:08 AM

One more thing (before these postings of mine become excessive): I have yet to complete my tree with KNOWN ancestors, which reach as far back as 1552. I have Kirmse ancestors that go less far back, but do go beyond the Valentin (1836-1886) I currently have on my tree. In due time. Some patience, please. :-)

1/20/2012 at 7:51 AM

Hi Ronald

I take it that you are Ronald of the Gerstenberg Kirmse´s? Have been thinking about contacting you. Delighted that you found me first :).

My 4th great grandfather Carl August Ludwig Gleditsch was born in Jena and showed up in Norway in 1790 as a merchant soldier. Car August´s mother was Johanna Magdalena Kirms of the Kirms-Krakow-Haus in Weimar (Goethe´s hangout). Johanna´s great grandfather Joachim Kirmeß (1614 - 1692) was master butcherer in Weimar and born in Reinstädt. Joachims father, grandfather and great grandfather were all priests named Johann Kirmeß. Johannes Kirmeß, III from Tauschwitz (1485 - 1568) was Pfarrer in Tegwitz (1541 - 1542) and the brother of Urban, Jacob, Veit, Walpa and three other ladies. Johannes Kirmeß, III is my 11th great grandfather and is mentioned together with Urban and Jacob on your Kirmse family website. Johann I´s father Hans Kyrmeß III and grandfather Hans Kyrmeß II were both born in Kratschütz and there the trail stops with (apparently) reliable records. Johannes Kirmeß from Altenburg born ca 1400 surely belongs to the same family, but Hans I was "Augustiner Chorherr des Berger Klosters" and likely didn´t foster a family (?).

Johannes Kirmeß, I was as a tanner and parchmenter and his name appears in mid 15th century records from both Leipzig and Wroclaw. The writers and parchmenters Peter Kirmeß and Laurencius Kirmeß show up in Posnan and Wroclaw in the same time period. Suspect they are all related. The Kirmeß trail reappears back in Thuringen in 1361 with Ditherich Kirmeß. No idea where he fits in....

I realize that any mention of the word Kirmes/Kirmessen etc is by default linked to "kirchweifest". Frankly - most historical documents in Germany apparently accredit anything possible to church history. So - if the Kirmse/Kirmeß family name was derived from "kirchweifest" you would think that someone like the Pfarrer Johann Kirmeß I would honour that in a letter to the bishop. But instead he entitles himself "I, Johannes of the Cheremis". Pretty remarkable. But maybe just a orthographic glitch? I dont know. I keep banging my head against the wall in searching for records of Tscheremissen in 14-16th century Saxony/Schlesia. And no response yet from the Mari archive people.

I suspect that Oswald and the Gerstenberg branch descend from Hans Kyrmeß II (or one of his brothers?). Need to get your family data entered on Geni to find out ;). And you are hereby invited to QC the existing Kirmse/Kirmeß tree.



1/21/2012 at 4:49 AM

"Kirchwihmesse" - not "kirchweifest". Orthographic glitch... ;)

1/21/2012 at 6:59 AM

By the way.... There is a third possible origin for Kirmeß. Polish/Schlesian records sometimes write the name as "Kirmesz". Kiermasz (кірмаш) is the Polish and Belarus word for "just" or "righteous".

Private User
1/22/2012 at 11:15 AM

Are you sure kiermasz isn't "fair" as in "world fair" or "village fair" (i.e. German Kirmes) as opposed to "just, righteous"?
One other thing: would it be easier for you to correspond in German? That is one of my native languages, together (!) with English & Portuguese (from Brasil, where I live). :-)

1/23/2012 at 7:52 AM

"Kiermasz" means both "village fair" and "just/righteous" in Polish. Same dual maening as "fair" in English. Curious coincidence. But I dont pretend to be an expert in linguistics ;). Anyways - the word "kiermasz" (and potentially "kirmes"?) may have been in use to describe "just/righteous" (and Mari people?) long before the first "Kirchwihmesse". Which of course does not disprove the assumed link between the family name "Kirmes" and "Kirchwihmesse". But it may be worthwhile to have an open mind....

I would certainly prefer English! I can read German, but depend on "google translate" to write it ;).

1/24/2012 at 2:00 AM

Trying the doublecheck the "kiermasz" to "just/righteous" translation. Looks like it may be a glitch in google translate. Ah well.... Nice to narrow in the options ;).

1/24/2012 at 2:48 AM

Check out this:

Kirmes ist nicht Kirchweihfest, das kir- chenrechtliche Anniversarium dedicationis ecclesiae, Alljahrfeier zur Erinnerung an die erste feierliche, dem Bischof vorbehaltene Konsekration der Kirche, sondern das aus germanischer Zeit stammende, ursprünglich acht Tage dauernde Fest, an dem man sich dem vollen Genuß der Herbstgaben widmete, durch einen Brief des Papstes Gregor I. (601) gebilligt, um die Bekehrung zum Christentum zu stärken. (1)

Maybe "Ceremisius" was the latin (Roman) name for the "Kirmes" harvest celebration?

(1) Neuer kölnischer Sprachschatz, Volume 2, Adam Joseph Wrede, Greven Verlag, 1958

1/27/2012 at 10:21 AM

Dear Hans, a Pfarrer is a Protestant Minister, not a Roman Catholic person.Martin Luther, the person most likely responsible for the conversion of the Ceremissi,was born in 1483 and died in 1546. So if your guy made it to Pfarrer,that is a possibility.(he was born 2 years later.) If Pfarrer Johan also mentioned his "Ceremissi" Stammbaum, it might be safe to exclude Roman Catholisism for the Kirmses from that time on.Which happens to jibe with my experience of that family,who seemed to have a holy fear of, and immense distance to,this religion.Julia

1/27/2012 at 10:57 AM

Hehe... Fair enough Julia. Pfarrers they are (were). And Protestants - as soon as Luther invented the term. You obviously know more about Protestants vs Catholics than I do. Catholics are very rare in Norway ;).

Private User
1/30/2012 at 6:03 AM

Hans, your information is most enlightening - translating the German quote: "Kirmes is ... the originally eight-day long celebration, dating from Germanic times, where people dedicated themselves to full enjoyment of the autumn gifts [I interpret this as being the gifts of autumn itself, i.e. fruits, flowers, harvest etc.], approved by a letter of Pope Gregory I (601) to fortify conversion to Christianity."
Meanwhile Julia wrote to me stating that "your Valentin was my gr grandmother Ernestine’s brother, I believe, also from Kriebitzsch, Thuringen". I asked her for more data. This seems to be flowing along! :-)

1/30/2012 at 7:09 AM

Yes - maybe the Kirmes festival predates christianity. And was adopted by the church who gave it a latin name. Dunno?

Came across a book on the history oh the Hungarian language (Lexicon vocabulorum hungaricorum from 1906) - discussing the origin of the family name Kermes/Kewrmes as in Georgie Kermes (1382), Michael Kermes (1420), Nicolao Kewrmes (1500), etc.

They relate Kermes to Kõrmõs/kérmés which means:
a) ungulatus; grosse nagel oder klauen habend
b) fortis, strenuus; kraftig, stark, energisch

No idea if this has any relevance for the Kirmeß clan...

Cheers H

1/30/2012 at 7:59 AM

Yes,but what happened to the Ceremissi from Upper Mongolia?And,why on earth would a newly made Protestant Pfarrer ,rearing to go, call himself after a Roman Catholic,if originally pre Christian,Harvest Celebration??I say, let's stick with the Mari, nothing else seems to make much sense.

1/30/2012 at 9:44 AM

Hehe. Mari´s are still a possibility. But I would certainly like to get some more meat on the bone than the word Ceremisius ;). Just hunting for possible hypothesis to prove or disprove. I do research for a living. Brain ticks that way.

Good old Johann I - the protestant Pfarrer - wrote letters to the Bishop in latin. Dont blame me ;). And he introduced himself as Mr Ceremisius. And so did Johann II and III. Ceremisius may have been used as the latin word for Kirmeß long before Luther invented protestants. Hans Kirmeß I was Augustiner Chorherr at Berger Kloster in 1444. Thats about as catholic you can get. And God knows what he mumbled when he presented himself in latin. I´ll bet it was Ceremisius.....;)

1/31/2012 at 12:27 PM

Türkiye’den selamlar;

E.T.’de ve günümüzdeki bazı Türkçe lehçelerinde “k~ç” ses değişimi vardır.

Örnek: “KEL-“ [E.T.] > “GEL-“ [T.T.] ~ “ÇEL-“ [Ri.A.]; “to come” [İng.]

Çeremişler’e komşu Ç.T.’nde “t~ç” ses değişimi vardır.

Örnek: “ÇӘRӘ” [Ç.T.] ~ “TİRİ“ [E.T.] > “DİRİ” [T.T.]; “alive” [İng.]

Kirms ← Kirmes ← Kirmeß ← Çirmeş ← Čeremis: Dirimiş (Etimolojik anlamı olarak).

Dirimiş: Tanrı’nın yardımıyla hayatta kalmış, yaşamış, ölmemiş. Türkçe’de; “Toxtamış (Tokhtamish), Durmuş (Durmush. Tormış .Thor; mitolojik İskandinav kahramanı, Thursday), Dursun (Torsın) biçiminde Tanrı’dan yardım görmüş veya Tanrı’ya yakarış ve istek içeren benzer erkek adları vardır.


Ç.T.: Çuvaş Türkçesi.
E.T.: Eski Türkçe.
İng.: İngilizce
Ri.A.: Rize ili ağzı.

1/31/2012 at 2:59 PM

Hi Kuman

According to legend - the Čeremis (Mari) had close contact with the Turkish people. And Čeremis language contains many Turkish words. The Mari use the word "Čeremis" to describe "human beeing", "living", "mortal". Very similar meaning as the Turkish word Dirimiş.

Kirmeß is an old Germanic word for celebrating the harvest. Which also gives associations to "surviving with the help of God" (Dirimiş). Which makes me wonder if Kirmeß/Čeremis/Dirimiş could have a common origin. Way way back in time...

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