28 Feb

No Quilt Content, it’s Fasching!

Bear with me, this is a long one, but worthy I think, because it’s mostly pictures. Today was Fat Tuesday, or as the Germans call it, Faschings Dienstag. Today concludes the Crazy Days begining on November 11th and working up to the last five or so days before Lent when it’s all parties, parades and pandemonium (what, you don’t think the Germans can do pandemonium? I’ve been to a couple of parties that disprove it!). We bundled up to go to a parade in a neighboring town. It had snowed this morning, but mother nature was kind enough to warm up just enough to melt the snow (though not enough to be considered at all warm). Here, those watching the parade get dressed up just as those in the parade do. (And likewise, those in the parade drink like those watching it do!) Here are my kids, as a blue bunny and Sonic the Hedgehog, plus our neighbors two doors down as a pirate and a witch, and our neighbor three doors down as an insurgent with his cousins the cowboy and the “gar nichts” (absolutely nothing).

Kids Dressed Up

Like any good parade, this one had bands. Often the bands will be in the usual band regalia. More often, not. This was a band of clowns, literally:
Clown Band

All Fasching parades must have officials. The hats these two are wearing are traditional and symbolize Fasching (I think they mostly symbolize the political parody that goes on at fancy dress balls in the weeks before Faschings Dienstag, where people dress up in these hats and capes and elect officials and pass all kinds of crazy laws and things.)

Bürgermeister and Bürgermeisterin

All parades have floats and small town Fasching parades are no exception. These guys and gals are dressed as traffic workers, complete with a float outfitted like the ubiquitous storage/office trailer at every building site.
Vehrkers Float Front

I loved how the back of their float included the extra clothes and pin ups de riguer in these sorts of buildings. By the way, the main purpose of floats seems to be to haul the group’s sound system and all the candy and stuff they throw at onlookers along the parade route (note beer stein in the green hard hat’s hand). Floats can be as elaborate as this or as simple as a handcart (or stroller) filled with pretzels or popcorn.

Verkehrs Float Back

My son goes to school with the cowboy in the light brown jacket, so I had to take a pic of him with his brother and dad.

Jürg and boys

Here’s the rest of their group. I didn’t even notice what club it was that they belonged to because I was so entranced. These guys had a whole dance routine going (of course). Their soundtrack? “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver. It happens to be the national anthem of Germany. You don’t believe me? You’re right, the anthem is actually “Country Roads.” Really, it’s played at absolutely every fest and absolutely every German knows absolutely every word! Oh, and the papier-maché steed seemed to be rigged so you could drink beer (or something) from it’s penis. Probably better not to ask too many questions.

If anyone is familiar with European comics, particularly French ones, you might recognize this guy as the Gaul Obelix, or at least a relative of his.

Obelix or Other Gaul

My son, speed racer, loved the troupe on mini motorcycles.

Did I mention this was in Germany? This is a country obsessed with football (soccer if you’re an Ami).


Here’s another float. This tractor is pulling a witch’s house complete with taxidermy crows on the chimney. It’s not unusual to see old tractors (not pulling witches’ houses) on a daily basis going to and from the fields, as houses are crammed close together in towns and then surrounded by unbroken fields, as opposed to everything scattered everywhere with fences in between as in the USA.
Witches' House

Here are the witches. My neighbor says that the farther south and east you go, the more witches are in the parades. When we lived in Wiesbaden/Mainz, in the center of the country, there were more political looking costumes and very few witches. Here there are a few more. My neighbor’s home town parade is almost all wooden masked witches, of many varieties. Unfortunately I can’t show DebR pics of my favorite witches because this parade didn’t have any. Their shirts, skirts, or pants are covered with row upon row of fabric squares which flap in the wind.
Witches (Hexen)

My neighbor called these Gefährliche Hexen, or dangerous witches.

Gefärliche Hexe

I guess that’s because if you throw confetti at them, they will threaten to sweep you up…

Witch Sweeping up Kids?

Or just go ahead and stuff their own confetti down the back of your shirt! (Luckily, Lukas is a good sport.)

Lukas Gets Stuffed

Speaking of throwing things, did I mention that parade participants throw candy, confetti, or little bags of popcorn at you?

Throwing Candy

Here’s the kids rushing to get the goodies.

Kids Rushing for Candy

Here’s some more witches. I loved these guys’ wooden wood masks (no, not the two in the foreground).

Woodsman Witches

In addition to popcorn and candy, these guys were handing out brötchen (little breads) too.

Wood Witch Offers Brötchen

So, what kind of message am I sending to my kids, telling them that it’s OK to take bread from a strange stranger in a mask…

Big Devil

or candy from an 8 foot tall devil?????

Big Devil Hands out Candy

We’re definitely NOT in the USA! Everyone is everyone’s neighbor and people actually respect each other over here.

So, the parade officials thank everyone for coming, and throw some popcorn of their own (notice, they too have a large speaker on their float for loud music!).
Fasching Officials

Viel Spaß; bis zum nächsten Jahr!

6 thoughts on “No Quilt Content, it’s Fasching!

  1. That was SO fun to see, Kristin!!

    I have to admit I pretty much lost it for a few seconds when I got to the pink cowboys and their papier mache horse. Hysterical!!!

  2. I grew up in Aachen, one of the main hubs for Karneval in Germany. And I confess, I totally forgot about the governing part of it. It’s interesting to look at one’s customs through the eyes of a foreigner. Thank you for posting this! Small town Karneval or Fasching is fab, I think. I used to travel to Kiedrich, http://www.kiedrich.de/, where they have a small parade mostly with floats built by teenagers. Adults get wine, kids get candy. The music is thumping, it’s a great party.

  3. Kristin,

    I asked my daughter what Fastnacht was like. She sent me this link and now I know. It really sounds great and so German. Barbara

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