Before every household in Hamburg received running water from pipes, water could only be picked up at wells. In order to earn some money, there were a lot of water bearers who carried huge buckets of water into people’s apartments.
A very famous water bearer in Hamburg was Hans Hummel. Hummel wasn’t his real name, but he had moved into the former apartment of a popular soldier named Hummel. In order to make fun of the water bearer, the kids on the streets kept calling him ‘Hummel, Hummel!’ and they even showed him their naked butts. Hans Hummel wasn’t very amused, but as he had his hands full with the heavy buckets, he always grumpily replied ‘Mors, Mors!’, which is Low German and signifies something like ‘Screw you!’. This is how the typical Hamburg greeting ‘Hummel, Hummel – Mors, Mors’ developed.
There is a stone statue of the water bearer, but in some spots, you can also see statues of Hans Hummel painted in all kinds of ways – there were a lot more of them, but most of them have been sold and are now in private hands.